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Isimba dam in Uganda

The Isimba dam project is a hydroelectric development that is built on the Nile River in Uganda. The location of the dam is about 4km downstream of Simba Falls, in the Kamuli district. The feasibility study on the project was completed in September 2012, but construction began in April 2015. The dam was finally completed and commissioned in March 2019.

The Isimba dam was built for the purpose of generating sufficient electricity to meet the country’s future needs. The Government of Uganda expects the project to generate 1,039-gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity a year. China International Water and Electric Cooperation was responsible for building the dam.

Isimba Hydropower Dam overview
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The 183.2MW (245,700 hp) power plant is located at the village of Isimba on the Victoria Nile, in Kamuli District, approximately 44 kilometers, by road, north of the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Station.

It features a five-floor office complex that has a control unit to regulate the functioning of turbine generators, transformers, and switchyard. The project extends over approximately 2,867.6 acres of land and it comprises a concrete gravity dam, a clay-core rock fill dam, a spillway, a powerhouse, electro-mechanical equipment, switching stations, and auxiliary power transmission works.

The concrete gravity dam consists of a reservoir retaining structure in front of the erection bay. The rock fill type with central clay core right dam is to provide storage for emergency gates and stop logs.

The powerhouse structure features four 45.8MW Kaplan turbines. The Isimba HPP external switchyard is connected to the powerhouse by four overhead lines. The 183MW electricity power at Isimba dam will be transmitted over 42kms to the Bujagali dam switchyard to load on the national grid.

Reported in 2014

New US$ 57m Isimba Hydropower Dam in Uganda to be complete in 3 years

Preliminary works on the Isimba Hydropower Dam that will add 183MW of power to Uganda’s national grid kicked off last month, with construction works scheduled for three years. Construction of the Kayunga District-based dam will benefit from the government’s counterpart funding of 15%, in addition to a low-interest loan acquired by the Government of Uganda from the Chinese government, through the Chinese Exim Bank.

The Isimba Hydropower Dam project will be set up on 37,000 acres of land in both Kayunga and Kamuli districts. Those displaced as part of this initiative will be compensated by the government according to Uganda Vice President Edward Kiwanuka. The president said this when inspecting preliminary works at the site, and added that if the activities were followed, construction would be completed as scheduled. He said that the work had been running smoothly.

Kiwanuka said some people displaced had been compensated, and that the rest should exercise patience. The Vice said the government had paid out a total of US$ 2.6m to those affected. Those paid out were those that had occupied lands where the powerhouse, the dam, and a substation for power evacuation to Bujagali were to be set up. A total of around US$ 15.7m.

The project will also involve the construction of a road across the river Nile and connecting the Kayunga and Kamuli districts. Those whose land will be affected by the construction of this road have been compensated.

Reported in March 2016

SMEC awarded a power project on the Isimba hydropower project in Uganda

Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) has awarded SMEC a contract to provide project management and construction supervision services on the 183.2MW Isimba hydropower project. SMEC provides high-quality consultancy services on major infrastructure projects.

SMEC will help UEGCL oversee the performance of various contractors, including the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor as well as the owner’s engineer. SMEC will also manage the hydropower project which is located 90km northeast of Kampala on the Nile River.

The objective of the project is to boost the country’s power generation capacity. The project, which is estimated to cost US$570m, has also received a debt financial boost from the China Export-Import Bank (Exim). In March 2015, the Parliament of Uganda also approved a $482.5m loan from the Exim Bank.

The project will be executed on over 2,865 hectares and will include a clay-core rockfill dam, spillway, powerhouse, concrete gravity dam switching stations, and auxiliary power transmission works (including the 42km 132 kV Isimba-Bujagali transmission line).

On completion, the hydropower plant is expected to generate 1,040GWh of power per year and boost the country’s capacity by 23% as well as implement energy efficiency technology. In addition, the government of Uganda will be collaborating with Umeme the power distributor to distribute 311,000 light-emitting diodes (LED) bulbs to some parts of the country. This LED rollout will be the third time in nine years, since the distribution program’s inception in 2007.

Three LED bulbs, each with a capacity of 7 watts will be distributed to 103,000 households in different areas in Ggaba, Kireka, Kajjansi Ntinda, Port Bell, Kisugu, and Entebbe Municipality, in exchange for three incandescent bulbs of varying watts.

The Isimba hydropower project is a significant project initiated by the Government of Uganda to improve severe power shortages in Uganda and accelerate the development of the local economy. Isimba hydropower plant is the fourth biggest hydropower project in Uganda. The plant is, however, expected to generate hydroelectric power at 68 cents per kWh, the lowest in East Africa.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the project was conducted on October 5, 2013, and the construction is expected to be completed within a period of 40 months. The project is anticipated to come operational in 2017.

Reported in Jan 2019

Uganda’s Isimba hydroelectric dam to be commissioned

After Uganda’s flagship hydropower projects failed to come online last year as scheduled due to unavoidable circumstances, there is now hope as the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), announced that Isimba Hydroelectric Dam is set for commissioning before the end of this month.

The revelation was made by Mr. Simon Kasyate, the UEGCL corporate affairs manager on Saturday during an interview with a media platform. All the dam’s four Kaplan turbine generator units were running by Friday last week when the UEGCL board of directors concluded their routine appraisal of the project led by the chairperson, Eng. Proscovia Njuki.

Mr. Kasyate said that they have written to the President, inviting him for the commissioning of the project on January 24 and they are still waiting for his response. He also added that commercial production and trade of power from the dam will begin in March. And that is when their commercial rates and charges will be applicable.

Reported in March 2019

CDAP gets underway ahead of the launching of the Isimba dam

The government of Uganda breaks ground for the Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) ahead of the launching of the Isimba dam. The Uganda Electricity Distribution Company (UEGCL), a government agency responsible for the development and operation of the Isimba Hydropower Dam, broke ground for classroom works, health centers, latrines, and boreholes, estimated to cost about US $1.5m.

The Community Development Action Plan is a government program whose aim is to mitigate the social challenges that arose from the construction of the 183MW Isimba Hydropower Dam in Kayunga and Kamuli Districts in eastern and central Uganda respectively.

Also Read: Ethiopia inaugurates US $3.6m Shashemene Hospital

CDAP programme

The scope of the plan, according to UEGCL Chief Executive Officer, Harrison Mutikanga, involves the provision of improved health care, education, clean water, latrines, and electricity to ensure that the lives of the people living in Kayunga and Kamuli districts are not affected.

“Prior to the implementation of this project, a section of people living near the dam depended on fetching water in R. Nile and now they cannot do that because after the embankment, it looks less like a lake and people can’t fetch water from there. So, the best alternative was for us to drill boreholes for them,” said Mr. Mutikanga.

He also added that as a way of giving back to the communities that were affected by the project, the company decided to extend other social services including schools and health services.


Some of the beneficiaries of the CDAP programme in both districts include: Nakandulo Primary School, St. Peter’s Kibuzi Sec School, Busaana Sec School, Busaana Health Centre II, Nakakandwa Primary School, Namusara Health Centre II, Lwanyama Technical Institute, Kayunga Health Centre II, Mbalamuti Health Centre II, St. Andrews Primary School, Bukamba Health Centre II, VIP latrines and toilets in both districts

Isimba Hydropower Dam is currently undergoing test trials ahead of commissioning next month and the subsequent handover of the facility to UEGCL for operation and maintenance in April this year.

Reported in March 2019

US $567.7m Isimba Hydropower Dam in Uganda commissioned

US $567.7m Isimba Hydropower Dam in Kayunga District Uganda has been officially commissioned by President Museveni. “The construction and completion of Isimba dam give confidence to investors that Uganda has adequate and reliable electricity,” said President Museveni.

The electricity generated, is set to increase power on the national grid to slightly over 1,000MW. This could prompt tariff reduction for large-scale consumers supplied from the national grid. Energy Minister Permanent Secretary Mr. Robert Kasande, however, noted that the power price reduction is not immediate for everybody across the board at once.

Technical staff at Isimba have been running tests of the gradual loading of the electricity generated from the dam onto the national grid since last December when the plant was originally planned to be commissioned.

Reduced electricity cost

The potential energy in the water from the reservoir converts to kinetic energy as it plunges, in the case of the Isimba dam, 25 meters to spin the turbine blades inside the powerhouse.

The rotation of the blades generates mechanical energy that powers the generators. Copper wires in the generators cut the magnetic fields, inducing electricity in the copper wires. This electricity is conducted to the transformers on the back of the powerhouse.

Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UECGL) said it will sell the electricity it generates at about US $5 cents per unit or 1,000 watts, lower than the US $8 cents charged for Bujagali dam power.

Reported in Jan 2021

Isimba Bridge is ready for use says Uganda National Roads Authority

Isimba Bridge is ready for use according to the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), a government agency mandated to develop and maintain the national roads network, advise the government of Uganda on general roads policy, contribute to the addressing of national transport concerns, and perform certain other functions in the country.

The announcement came following the conclusion of a dynamic load testing exercise, during which four dump trucks weighing 30 tonnes each were placed on the bridge that connects Kayunga and Kamuli districts across the River Nile.

According to Mr. Lawrence Pario, the Unra head of bridges and structures who headed the testing exercise, the objective was to assess the bridge’s ability to manage heavy load and to ascertain its conformity with the design.

After seven hours of testing, Mr. Pario said: “The Bridge has passed the test and we shall now recommend to the relevant authorities that it is ready for commissioning. Meanwhile, pedestrians and motorcyclists are free to use it to cross the river. Vehicles will be allowed after its commissioning.”

Expectations for the bridge

Built by China International Water and Electric Corporation, the bridge is expected to boost trade between Kayunga and Kamuli districts and create an alternative route for travelers traveling to and from the eastern region.

The travelers have been relying on a ferry that docks about three kilometers from the bridge, which has been an inconvenience due to its unreliable travel schedules. Mr. Pario said that the ferry would be relocated to another site yet to be determined by the government of the East African country.

There are also plans to turn the bridge into a tourism site to increase local revenue for Kayunga District. President Yoweri Museveni is expected to commission the bridge together with the newly renovated and expanded Kayunga district hospital soon.

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