The construction of the proposed Karuma Hydropower Project on River Nile is expected to create more than 10,000 new jobs according to Chinese giants Sinohydro Corporation the power plant and transmission line contractors.
Construction of the 600-megawatt Karuma dam will begin in January 2014 and it will start producing power by 2018 and Irene Muloni, the minister of Energy and Mineral Development, said the Chinese firm would tap into the local labour, and create opportunities for the people around.“During construction, the locals will provide labour and construction materials to the project. As provided for by Section 76 of the Electricity Act, 1999, Kiryandongo district will receive royalties, which will accrue from the production of electricity.
Jobs expected include opportunities for welders, joiners, porters, carpenters, cooks, cleaners, electrical and mechanical engineers and masons among others.
The Kiryandongo locals are also expected to have an opportunity to start small and medium scale business ventures that will serve the needs of the projects workers besides supplying construction materials like high grade steel, sand and aggregates.
The contract also involves building a transmission line to Kawanda near Kampala, Olwiyo in Nwoya and another one to Lira substation.
The plant, which is being constructed at a cost of $2.2-billion, is one of the high-priority projects in Uganda’s National Development Plan and is touted as the ultimate solution to the country’s persistent energy problems.
When completed in 2018, the facility will almost double Uganda’s installed capacity from the current 509 MW to 1 109 MW. It will also help connect more Ugandans to the national grid. Currently, only 5% of the country’s 30-million people have access to electricity. Demand for electricity in Uganda is increasing at an average of 10% a year.
Delays in building the plant have been caused by controversies surrounding the procurement of a contractor and failure to secure funding from development financial institutions (DFIs) that had initially com-mitted to financing the project but later pulled out owing to disagreements over the design and capacity of the plant.
Frustrated by the delays and goalpost shift- ing by DFIs, including the Germany Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, Museveni decided to personally take charge of the project.
He managed to convince Chinese President Xi Jinping to fund the project when they met in South Africa during the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Durban.