文I罗纳德·卡托（Ronald Kato） 乌干达《新愿景报》记者 翻译I王晓波
Richard Sserwadda 是坎帕拉南部的一个玉米磨坊主，他说高电价严重挫伤了农产品加工商们的积极性，导致他们不愿为提高乌干达农业的附加值付出努力。
Uganda: Shortage of Electricity Remains Despite an Energy Surplus
By Ronald Kato, Journalist of New Vision, Uganda
Kafumu is a small village located 35km outside Uganda’s capital Kampala in central Uganda. Most of Kafumu’s residents are poor farmers who grow vegetables and maize. The village has however been mostly set back by the lack of access to electricity. Despite its close proximity to the capital, Kafumu has never been connected to the national grid, severely hindering its potential to grow and deliver prosperity for its residents.
Two years ago, Charles Maviiri, a resident of the village started a welding and fabrication business. It however collapsed six months later.
“I could not afford diesel for the generator anymore, the costs had become unbearable”, Maviiri said. Diesel in Uganda retails for around $1 a litre.
Tales similar to Maviiri’s can be heard in hundreds of villages in Uganda, a string of failed businesses whose collapse is precipitated by the lack of access to electricity.
The Surplus Paradox
In the early 2000’s, Uganda’s electricity sector was in a crisis. There was almost near zero investment in new dams and new sources of electricity. The result of that was that Uganda faced a power deficit. The most symbolic feature of this poor investment in the electricity sub-sector was the load-shedding.
In a desperate move to save the situation, the government opted for heavy fuel generators to address the energy deficit that the government was facing.
But with the launch of Bujagali, a 250MW hydro power plant in 2012, the energy situation stabilized. The subsequent commissioning of several mini hydro power plants led to surplus energy being generated.
According to Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL0, the generators of Uganda’s electricity, the country’s installed generation capacity is currently about 862MW – including 100MW from the heavy fuel generators – and effective demand is just short of 600MW. The total redundancy is estimated at about 200MW.
The surplus is a result of a lack of enough demand. A contracting economy has meant weaker demand for power as the industrial sector, which consumes about 70% of electricity generated in Uganda has registered slow growth.
UEGCL’s chief executive officer Harrison Mutikanga said the government should attract investors to utilize the surplus power generated.
“We should unlock the suppressed demand by attracting more investors to set up factories to consume power,” said Mutikanga. “Generation is no longer a problem. We also need to improve the transmission and distribution lines,” he added.
The weak demand by the manufacturing sector is not helped by the low electricity coverage. Only about 20% of Ugandans have access to electricity. Despite massive rural electrification campaigns in the past, millions of Ugandans remain without electricity even with a 250 MW surplus.
Authorities however believe the surplus will be swallowed up in the next two years when the economy makes a full recovery. Selestino Babungi, the Chief Executive Officer of UMEME, the electricity distributors in Uganda says the surplus will not last a long time.
“Supply should move ahead of demand. In fact, infrastructure, even if it is an industrial investor, they will look at whether there is enough supply for the next five years. Otherwise, no industries will set-up if a country does not have enough power,” he explained.
The International Monetary Fund projects that Uganda’s economy will return to the pre-2011 growth rate of 7% in 2020.
Generate More Power
Even with an unutilized surplus, Uganda is pressing ahead with more power projects. Currently, two hydro power stations are nearing completion in the central and north of the country.
Isimba (183MW) and Karuma (600MMW) are being built by China Water and Electric and Sino hydro respectively at a cost of around $3bn with financing coming from the Export and Import (EXIM) bank of China. Once on board, the two projects will increase Uganda’s installed capacity to 1,683MW.
Demand will Meet, even Exceed Supply
With a renewed push for industrialization and and agro-processing, government is convinced that the surplus power will be scooped up.
Industries consume almost 70 per cent of the generated power. So when more industries come on board, effective demand will grow exponentially. The government has already lined several demand projections based on the projects that will come on board.
According to Mutikanga, some of these include the demand for the Standard Gauge Railway, Namanve Industrial Park, Kampala Light Rail, Iganga Industrial Park, the Osukuru Phosphate Fertiliser Factory and increasing urbanization.
More power is also expected to be consumed by projects in Uganda’s oil rich Albertine region. The oil pipeline to ship oil to the Tanzanian port of Tanga will be the largest electrically heated pipeline in the world is one of those projects. The others are the oil refinery, Hoima international airport and Hoima industrial park, all located in the oil belt.
Additionally, there is also expected demand from the Free Zones that the country is setting up through the Free Zones Authority. The working assumption is that these projects will consume a combined excess of over 800MW. But before these projects come on board, it is likely that the surplus power will remain a burden to consumers and taxpayers.
High Tarrifs Remain an Obstacle
Uganda’s electricity, even with a 200MW surplus remains most expensive in East Africa. One of the reasons is that Uganda has expensive debt in a bid to make itself energy secure, making the cost of generation much higher.
Uganda’s is also tied down by contracts it reached with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) when they were rushed in to offset a massive energy deficit in the early 2000’s. despite the fact many of them haven’t sold any power to government in more than five years, they continue to receive massive payouts from the state.
In 2014/15, the Auditor General’s report revealed that the government spent about $22m on idle IPPs that did not generate a single megawatt of power.
The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), which consumes about 70 per cent of the electricity distributed in Uganda, has always complained about the tariffs.
Richard Sserwadda, a maize miller in south Kampala says the high tariffs have frustrated agro-processors and defeated efforts to add value to Uganda’s agricultural produce.
“The government has been promising to bring down the cost of power for so many years but that has not happened”, he said.
“The cost of doing business remains unacceptably high and that’s why there are no new factories to use up the surplus power”, Sserwadda added.
Power prices remain high for domestic users too, one of the reasons access to electricity remains minimal. Currently, the cost of a unit of power for household, salons, shops and kiosks is Shs685 ($0.189). This is still very high for an average Ugandan who lives on less than two dollars a day.
Rural Electrification to Increase Access
With an average of 75 kWh/year, Uganda has one of the lowest electricity consumption per inhabitant in Africa. Its population has low access to electricity; the national electrification rate is estimated at 20% with the rural population having an even lower rate of less than 7%. Power shortage remains one of the greatest obstacles to the country’s economic growth.
The limited access to electricity and high energy costs are hampering economic development, entrenching inequality and impeding the improvement of livelihoods and further contributes to the high cost of doing business in the country. To address this situation, the government is implementing various measures, such as its Vision 2040 to achieve an 80 percent electrification rate by 2040, the five-year National Development Plan targeting 30% overall access by 2019/20 and the 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan (RESP-2) targeting to increase the current electricity access in rural areas to 26% by 2022.
According to the executive director of the rural Electrification Agency (REA), the Uganda government agency mandated to facilitate the government’s goal of achieving rural electrification, Godfrey Turyahikayo, in the financial year 2014/15, over 354.21km of medium voltage and 2,145km of low voltage were added to the national grid.
Approximately 5,400km of medium voltage and 3300km of low voltage have been constructed by the Rural Electrification Agency. As a way to boost access, priority is given to district headquarters, health centres, schools and agro-based industries, when building lines.
The Government of Uganda approved the 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan (RESP-2) in June 2013 with a target to increase access to electricity in rural areas from 7% to 26%. The Uganda.
The Gap and What it will take to Plug it
Uganda currently has 862 MW of installed electricity generation capacity. In his 2015/16 budget speech, Finance minister Matia Kasaija indicated that electricity access is currently at 20.4 per cent, meaning more than 25 million Ugandans lack access to electricity. From the electricity-consumption point of view, Uganda’s situation is far below other developing countries.
The National Development Plan II provides a baseline figure of annual average electricity consumption of 80 kilowatt-hours per capita (kWh per capita) for the financial year 2012/13. This is one-tenth of the consumption in Zambia (767 kWh per capita) and just 2.6 per cent of the global average (3,026 kWh per capita) from the 2013 energy indicators provided by the International Energy
Agency report of 2015 on key world energy statistics.
For Uganda to attain middle-income status by 2020, the NDP II has set targets for electricity access at 30 per cent and average consumption at 578 kWh per capita.
According to Harrison Mutikanga, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited, in order to realise these targets, the NDP II projects power generation installed capacity to increase to 2,500 MW by 2020. This means increasing installed electricity generation capacity by 1,638 MW between 2016 and 2020.
But the large and small projects currently under development will add a total of 819.3 MW of new capacity by 2020. This, however, falls short of the NDP II target for installed capacity by 819 MW. This clearly shows there is still need to invest in more electricity generation facilities to close the deficit and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the next five years.
New Power Projects
Away from the two flagship projects of Isimba and karuma, Uganda is in the process of developing Ayago (840MW), Muzizi (44.7 MW) and Nyagak III (5.5 MW). UEGCL is also currently in the process of securing funding for feasibility studies to develop other small hydro power dams across the country at Okulacere (6.5MW), Latoro (4.2MW), Agbinika (2MW) and Maziba (1MW).
According to the ministry of energy, Uganda’s uptake of solar energy has been growing in recent years. There are now more than 200 private companies involved in selling off-grid power devices across the country and the growth trend is expected to continue in the coming years because of the surging demand. The growth is explained in part by favourable government policies such as the waiving of import duty on solar energy products.
One of the newest and most influential industry players is MKOPA solar. Their systems can be bought on credit or on cash. A system complete with two bulbs, a battery, a radio, phone charger, torch, and a 10W panel is sold at Shs 650,000 ($200) on a cash basis.
‘We know that most homesteads need energy for lighting and to charge mobile phones, our systems basically answer these needs’, says Abbey Kibirango, M-KOPA’s Uganda marketing manager.
Away from solar energy, Uganda also plans to exploit its wind energy potential. According to Uganda’s renewable energy policy 2007, wind data collected by the country’s meteorology department concluded that wind energy is available and sufficient for power generation especially in the southwest and east of the country. The government is also promoting biogas among rural farming communities.