August 16, 2017 / 12:35 PM / 2 years ago

Uganda says signs deal with Congo to build $150 mln power line

KAMPALA, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Uganda has signed a preliminary agreement with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo to build a power transmission line connecting both countries so that Kampala can sell electricity to the eastern Congo, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Uganda generates about 800 megawatts of electricity but that should double in about one and a half years when two hydropower dams are completed, giving the east African nation surplus energy.

By contrast, less than 15 percent of Congo has access to electricity and blackouts are common.

Irene Muloni, Uganda’s energy minister, told Reuters the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding this month to jointly construct a high-voltage power line.

The line, with an estimated length of 350 kilometres, will start at a substation in the western Ugandan town of Fort Portal, which is close to the border with Congo.

The line would supply power to the major towns of Beni, Bunia and Butembo in eastern Congo.

The Ugandan stretch of the line will be about 70 kilometres and “each government will take care of its portion,” Muloni said, adding that a feasibility study funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) had already been completed.

ADB was interested in funding the project’s development, estimated to cost $150 million, she said, adding that talks about a possible financing agreement were at an early stage.

“Once ADB accepts the funding, the project will be ready (by) end of 2019,” she said.

Uganda’s current peak power demand stands at about 600 megawatts and Muloni said the country would have a lot of excess power when the two power plants under construction on the river Nile come online. Both are funded by China’s Exim bank.

Several other small hydropower projects, typically between 1-20 megawatts in capacity, are also under development in different parts of the country. (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Katharine Houreld and Gareth Jones)

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