Chinese and Ugandan technicians work at the construction site of Isimba Power Plant Project in Kayunga district, Uganda, Aug. 8, 2017. As River Nile, the longest in the world, snakes through central Uganda, Chinese engineers and their local counterparts are constructing a multi-million U.S. dollar power plant on its bank in the remote Kayunga district. (Xinhua/Zhang Gaiping)
by Ronald Ssekandi, Zhang Gaiping
KAYUNGA, Uganda, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Inside the power house at Isimba Hydropower Plant in the central Ugandan district of Kayunga, engineers subject the first unit of the plant to tests before the official commissioning slated for late January.
The engineers told Xinhua in a recent interview that after the commissioning of the first unit, they will move onto the second, third and eventually the fourth.
RELIEVING POWER SHORTAGE
The four units of the 183 MW Chinese constructed power plant would be commissioned in a phased manner, according to Xia Nenghai, General Manager of Uganda Branch, China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE). CWE is the EPC contractor of the project.
Outside the power house, local workers under the supervision of Chinese technicians put final touches on the structural works.
"The civil work, the embankment of the dam, and the power house construction, the installation of the electric, mechanical equipment have been fully completed," said Xia.
The construction of the 568 million U.S. dollars power plant located on River Nile, the world's longest River, started in 2015, after Uganda secured a loan from China Export Import Bank. Uganda got the loan to address the country's power shortage, which economic experts said was stalling economic development.
After commissioning of all the units, the plant will generate the installed capacity of 183 MW, which is currently about 19 percent of the country's power generated. The country generates up to 974.84 MW, which experts say is inadequate and expensive.
When the Isimba power comes on to the national grid, it is expected to partly address the shortfall, according to the government.
Another Chinese funded Karuma Hydropower Plant is being constructed and is expected to generate 600 MW. The government anticipates that both the Isimba and Karuma power will address the country's power shortage.
At the construction site, the workforce has reduced as most of the structural works have been completed. What is now remaining is largely electrical and mechanical works, according to Xia.
At the peak of the construction, there were over 3,000 local workers ranging from semi-skilled to skilled.
Most of the youths who worked at the site gained more skills that they would use even after the project is long completed, according to Xia.
He said although the power plant is Chinese constructed, it has an American design as requested by the Ugandan government.
"We want to bring our Chinese knowledge, skills and management to the Ugandan people so that they can have more capability to work for their nation in future because we cannot stay here forever," Xia said.
"In future, Ugandans will build their country by themselves, with the correct skills," he added.
In communities neighboring the construction site, there is noticeable change as what was a small trading center has now expanded. Some of the workers from different parts of the country reside in the Busana trading center.
Xia said most of the employees were recruited from the community and surrounding districts, which explains the development in the area.
CWE also renovated a nearby school, Nakakandwa Primary School. The company, as part of its corporate social responsibility gave a new face-lift to the school.