By Max Patrick Ocaido
Cabinet has agreed to conduct a feasibility study to assess the environmental impact of the proposed hydropower energy on Murchison Falls on the shores of Lake Albert, in northwest Uganda.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday at Uganda Media Centre, Minister of Energy Irene Muloni said that the cabinet on Monday agreed that a feasibility study gets undertaken on the Uhuru falls site where the hydropower dam will be constructed.
Muloni refuted reports that the proposed power dam will be constructed on Murchison Falls.
Uhuru Falls and Murchison Falls are separate falls that are adjacent to each other.
Coordinates for Murchison Falls is 2016’ 22.99 N 31041’0.02 E while Coordinates for Uhuru Falls (The proposed HPP site) is 2016’ 42.6 N 31041’08.8 E.
“In making the decision, Cabinet considered the need to have the feasibility study undertaken because that is the only scientific way to determine the impact of the project on the environment, tourism, and ecology at the proposed site,” Muloni said.
“The feasibility study will include assessment of the technical, environmental, socio-cultural, economic and financial viability of the project.”
Muloni said that the government will ensure thorough supervision of the feasibility study so that its interests are taken into consideration including benchmarking where similar projects have been previously undertaken in ecologically sensitive areas.
She added that the demand for power is growing at about 10% per annum implying continuous development of renewable energy sources including hydro which is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
According to the government Vision 2040, for Uganda to achieve the desired socio-economic transformation, it will require to have 41,738 Megawatts by the year 2040 thus increasing the country’s electricity consumption per capita to 3,668 kWh.
The national electricity access rate now stands at 50% with 26% on the grid and 24% on the off-grid, according to a recent Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) electrification survey.
Minister of Tourism Ephraim Kamuntu assured the public that the construction of the power dam will be abandoned if the feasibility study shows that its construction will disrupt the conservation nature of the falls.
There will be scientific evidence to show that the demand for hydropower energy disrupts the maintenance of natural beauty. Unless this beauty is maintained then no hydropower energy will be constructed,” Kamuntu said.
“I assure you that Conservation of flora and fauna is not a choice for anyone, it is a command from the Constitution.”