RWANDA’s call: Uganda says Kampala-Kigali regional power inter-connector ready for business
The long delayed Uganda-Rwanda 220KV power line is finally ready for commissioning after Kampala successfully concluded the construction of its sector.
Multiple sources say that Uganda has completed its side and powered the line up to the Mirama Hills interconnection point but the Rwandan side is not technically ready to receive energy.
“Our line is energised from Mbarara to Mirama Hills but the other side is not ready to receive power,” Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited Communications Manager Pamela Nalwanga, told 256BN.
She did not volunteer any further information and this news site was not able to get comment from Rwanda.
However, the Nile Basin Organisation in the February 2020 edition of its NELSAP (Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme) Newsletter, also confirms the readiness of the Ugandan side and says commissioning should happen during 2020.
“In order to improve access to electricity in NEL countries, NELSAP-CU is promoting increased cross-border sharing of energy and power. This year (2020), commissioning of the Uganda (Mbarara/Mirama)-Rwanda (Shango) power interconnection and synchronization of the interconnection between the electric grids of Burundi – DR Congo – Kenya – Rwanda – Uganda will take place.
“Initial power trading through the lines between Uganda and Rwanda is planned to commence in 2020 once the Rwanda – Uganda Interconnector is commissioned into operational service,” says NELSAP.
The organisation that is at the forefront on the African Development Bank funded project adds that “on the Uganda side, construction of both the line and the Mbarara substation are complete and all facilities for interconnection with Rwanda are ready and the line has been energized up to the Rwanda border.”
Behind schedule by nearly four years, the delays in completion of the line have partly fed into tensions between the two neighbours, with one side suspecting economic sabotage by the other.
NELSAP reports that the power grids between Kenya and Uganda are in synchronized operation, just as in the case between Rwanda, Burundi and part of the Eastern D.R Congo at Ruzizi.
“The interconnection between Rwanda and Uganda was the missing link, whose commissioning will realize parallel operation of the electric grids of the five countries namely; Burundi, D.R Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
NELSAP-CU together with EAPP with support from USAID are working on modalities for coordinated and smooth synchronized operation of the interconnected grid system in the NEL. Key areas being addressed are protection schemes, interconnection switching operations, outage requests, fault detection and clearing, synchronization, telecommunications, dispatch/operational procedures, coordination of maintenance schedules and regional power trade as per the East Africa Power Pool (EAPP) Interconnection Code.”
NELSAP says that it is working with the countries and the EAPP to put in place working groups made up of planning, dispatching, protection and telecommunications engineers from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to to facilitate commissioning of the project and synchronization of the networks of the concerned countries.
It explains that these activities fall under the interconnection of the electric grids of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Countries project that covers Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda that is being managed by NELSAP-CU on behalf of the countries. The project involves construction of 930km of overhead transmission lines with 17 substations.
The project aims to improve the socioeconomic welfare of the people and promote economic development and the environment in project countries through increased availability of affordable electric energy through increased cross-border sharing of energy. Other transmission lines that have been completed under the project include the 220kV Rwanda – DR Congo transmission line which went live three years ago initially at 110kV.