Tororo district located in eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya has of recent witnessed an increase in the number of industries setting their bases in the district that boosts of minerals such as phosphates, lime stone among others.
The increase in the growth of the industries in the area is a result of Umeme’s investment in the power distribution infrastructure, attracting new factories like the National Cement, Simba Cement and Hima Cement that are expected to start production this year.
Both the Hima and Simba Cement factories have a projected power demand of 20 megawatts with respective demand of 12MW and 8MW.
Tororo Cement Industries (TCI) which has operated in the area for decades has also expanded and increased its production capacity due to a steady supply of power.
As new factories rush to open shop in Tororo, Umeme is making the requisite preparations in investments in anticipation of the projected increase in demand.
However, the existing nearby substations of Tororo Rock, Nagongera and Mbale are currently incapacitated to take on the expected load necessitating the need for a new substation.
As such, Umeme has invested up to US $3.88 million (about Shs14 billion) into setting up a new substation at Nyakesi, an investment that is tipped to boost industrialisation in the area through reliable power supply.
Civil works at the project that was contracted to Global Network Limited are currently estimated to be 81 per cent complete. It is expected to be completed by end of next month.
The capacity works include installation of two transformers of 20 MVA each, seven switch gears of 33kv and 5 switch gears of 11kv.
This is expected to meet the anticipated maximum demand, power quality, stability and reliability requirement around the potentially growing industrial park, therefore, Umeme needed to boost the present supply.
Tororo Cement, the initially sole existent cement manufacturer in the area has sunk about US $30 million (about Shs108 billion) into expansion of its current factory that shall see it increase its installed production capacity by an annual 1.2 metric tonnes.
This will bring its installed production capacity to 3 million metric tonnes, from the current 1.8m metric tonnes.
With Tororo Cement increasing its production capacity, Umeme has also invested US $455,000 (about Shs1.6 billion) to avail its biggest customer countrywide with an additional 10MW.
The additional load meant that a dedicated feed would be required to meet the ever growing demand justifying the sh1.6b
The works here have included construction of a 6.8km double socket concrete pole to guarantee reliable and stable supply.
“We have been having challenges of unstable power supply. Cement manufacturing is a continuous process and as such, we need stable power supply,” Brij Gagrani, Tororo Cement executive director.
The works involved supporting the ever growing load, which necessitated the increasing of the feeder carriage capacity through conductor size uprate.
With an installed generation capacity of about 930 megawatts and an additional expected 896.76MW from other projects under construction, there is need to invest in other segments of electricity sub-sector.
These are inclusive of Uganda’s flagship projects of 600MW Karuma and 183MW Isimba hydro projects that are expected to be commissioned before end of year.
The power distributor plans to invest up to US $70 million (about Shs259 billion), up from US $65 million (about Shs240 billion) in anticipation of the expected generation increase.
“Over 70 per cent of our power is consumed by industrial customers. It’s fundamental that when for the new generation coming on board, we concentrate on large consumers. We need big industries to take up this power,” Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director said.
He explained that Uganda needs to model its new generation around industrial and commercial consumers that will lead to job creation and economic development which puts money in the pockets of households.
“That’s why we are advocating industrial development, commercial production, value addition and cottage industries,” he added.