Electricity News

AfDB Chooses US Firm To Review Uganda’s Rural Power Project

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has selected American firm NRECA International to review the old feasibility studies and designs that were used during Uganda’s first phase of the Rural Electrification Access project, and come up with updated reports before the country can resume extending voltage lines to rural premises across all regions.

NRECA International emerged as the best bidder, according to a recent announcement by the AfDB, beating GOPA-International Energy Consultants GmbH from Germany and Ginger   SOFRECO from France.

According to the contract terms, NRECA will be paid $591,095 after it has reviewed feasibility studies, done in 2018, to produce an updated study that will include environmental, social assessments and technical designs for more than 2,500 km of medium to low voltage lines across the country. NRECA is expected to deliver the study by December this year.

NRECA has a long history of working in Uganda. The company updated the Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan 2013 – 2022 (RESP II), which guided electrification access expansion in Uganda.

The company carried out a study that led to the development of the rural electrification master plan, which mapped out 13 service territories that provide a framework for grid and off-grid electrification expansion, according to the ministry of Energy.

NRECA also supported Uganda in the development of the Electricity Connection Policy that addressed affordability challenges, according to the ministry. Under this initiative, consumers within a 70-meter radius of an existing low-voltage power line are eligible for free electricity connections thus increasing access for those unable to pay connection fees, the ministry added.

The Rural Electrification Access project is a 10-year programme that started at the end of 2014. The project, whose loan financing totals $121 million, is meant to widen the access of electricity in rural areas by facilitating last mile connections in 16 districts. Nearly 100,000 new customers are expected to be benefit from this project by getting access to electricity. Less than 20 per cent of people living in rural Uganda have access to electricity.

The Rural Electrification Agency used to manage and supervise the project. The agency has since been disbanded and merged into the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Although the AfDB says the overall performance of the project is “satisfactory”, delays in executing some works mean that the project will be stretched beyond December 2024. The AfDB is concerned that the procurement of energy meters and connection accessories has contributed to the delay of the project. Also, the bank is concerned by Uganda government’s sluggish pace of compensating project affected persons along the routes of the voltage lines.

The bank did not offer a new timeline of the project.

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