Karuma hydroelectric power station, one of the largest in Uganda

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Karuma hydroelectric power station is expected to be operational in March 2023 according to the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa. Nankabirwa made the revelation while announcing the 2023 electricity end-user tariffs in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

The dam’s commissioning has been extended more than thrice. The first completion date was set for December 31, 2019. However, this date was extended to November 30, 2020, and later to June 22, 2022.

The Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) has blamed the persistent delays on procurement hurdles, in addition to delays by the government to hand over land for the project, and hostile weather, including torrential rain, which slowed down some of the construction works.

Recently, UEGCL attributed the delays to discrepancies in electromechanical installations such as electric cables, wiring systems in the tunnels, and the fire extinguishing system which they say are being fixed.

Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station Project Overview

Karuma hydroelectric power station project is on the Nile River, in Kyandongo District, Uganda. Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) and Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) are spearheading the 600MW run-of-the-river power facility project.

The project comprises the construction of a 20m-high and 312m-long roller compact concrete (RCC) gravity dam. Upon completion, it will be the largest of its kind in East Africa. It will have a 35 km-long reservoir spread across an area of 2,737ha. At an estimate, the gross reservoir volume is 79.87 million m³.

The Karuma hydroelectric power station project will also involve the construction of six 20m-high and 29m-wide water intake towers. Six 7.7m diameter and up to 379m-long concrete lined pressure shafts. In addition, a 200m-long, 21.3m-wide, and 53m-high underground powerhouse cavern housing six 100MW vertical Francis turbines will be built. The turbines will operate under a gross head of 70m and a speed of 150 rotations per minute (rpm).

Also Read: Latest Developments on Nyamwamba II Hydropower Project in Kasese, Uganda

An Overview Of The Karuma Mega-Development

Moreover, two 314m-long, 21.5m-wide, and 50m-high orifice-type tailrace surge chambers will also be a part of the project. This is where water will go back to the river through two 12.9m diameter horseshoe-shaped tailrace tunnels approximately 8.6km long. The design discharge for the hydropower plant will be 1,128m³/s.

Power from the Karuma hydroelectric power station will derive from an underground transformer cavern located just above the underground powerhouse. The 200m-long, 18.0m-wide, and 14.4m-high transformer cavern will be with six 11kV/400kV step-up transformers. It will be connected with the powerhouse through a 40m-long bus duct tunnel.

Three transmission lines will be in use to feed the electricity generated by the facility to the national grid. These lines include the 248km-long 400kV Karuma-Kawanda line, the 55km-long Karuma-Olwiyo line, and the 80km-long Karuma-Lira transmission line. Furthermore, the project involves the construction of three new substations at Karuma, Kawanda, and Olwiyo. These will be built by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL).

Karuma hydroelectric power station project will cost at least US$ 1.7bn. It is financed 85% through a soft loan from the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China, while the Ugandan government provides the remaining 15%. The loan’s repayment will be over a period of 25 years, at an average interest rate of 3%.

Reported earlier


The Ugandan government first had plans for the construction of a power station at Karuma Falls in 1995. Norpak, a Norwegian energy company was contracted to conduct the feasibility study and the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the dam. The project was to receive financing from the World Bank through a loan.


In October 2006, the project’s feasibility study was released. In November of the same year, the government invited bids for the construction of the project. The initial plan was to build a 200-250 MW power station.


In 2009, the project plans to develop a much bigger dam of 750 MW. In the same year, Norpak withdrew from the project citing financial challenges due to the Global Recession of 2008-2012. Energy Infratech Private Limited was contracted to conduct a fresh feasibility study as well as EIA.


In July 2011, the project’s capacity was brought down to 600 MW. Some international development partners wanted to scale back even further, to a maximum capacity of 400 to 450 megawatts.


Construction work at the power station officially began on 12 August 2013.

Reported On Jun 13, 2014

No financial closure yet for Uganda’s Karuma hydropower project

The total cost of the project is US$1.7bn. This amount includes the costs, of building transmission lines to where the power will go into the national grid. The project will generate 600MW of electricity once complete.

85% of the project’s funding is to be through a soft loan from Exim Bank by the Chinese firm. Meanwhile, Uganda was to cater for the remaining 15%. The firm has now asked the Ugandan government to pay its 15% share of the deal upfront. In order to speed up the project which is several years behind schedule.

Getting back on track

According to Energy Minister Irene Muloni, the Ugandan Government will collaborate with the contractors. Work had already begun at the site adding that they were not going to delay the project further.
Sinohydro has confirmed that if China Exim Bank does not hold up to its end of the deal, then it will have to discontinue.

The project has had various challenges arising from allegations of corruption in the process of procuring the tender. Alongside challenges of getting manpower to operate the machines.


In March 2015, Alstom was subcontracted by Sinohydro, the lead contractor on the project to supply equipment and technical services to the power station. Alstom got $65 million in the deal.

Reported On Oct 9, 2015

Alstom wins US$ 65m contract to equip Karuma hydropower plant in Uganda

Alstom is a French multinational company dealing with hydroelectric, gas, coal, and nuclear-power turbines and plants. It got the US$65m contract to equip the 600MW Karuma hydropower plant in Uganda with turbine generator equipment.

According to the agreement, six 100MW Francis turbine generator sets and equipment installation will be by Alstom on the power plant.  Alstom Hydro China will be responsible for designing, manufacturing, and supervising the installation, commissioning, and testing of the products.

A Chinese engineering and construction company Sinohydro is currently undertaking the project. It said that this is a good opportunity for Alstom because it will enhance its presence in the African region. Especially as its hydropower technology is long-standing.


As of March 2016, around 30% of the project was complete. The project employed around 5,000 Ugandans and 1,000 Chinese.

Reported On Jan 7, 2016

Karuma hydropower plant in Uganda to start construction of transmission lines

Uganda’s 600MW Karuma hydropower plant will commence the construction of transmission power lines; this is after intec – GOPA-International Energy, a German energy consulting company agreed on a US$ 6.3m consultancy services contract.

Funding for the construction of the transmission lines at the Karuma hydropower plant is from China’s Exim bank.

Eriasi Kiyemba, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) Managing Director spoke about the project. He said the transmission lines at the Karuma hydropower plant were to increase and improve power service delivery.

“The government through UETCL, the implementing agency, will construct the Karuma- Kawanda 440kV. It will also construct Karuma-Olwiyo 400kV and Karuma -Lira 132kV transmission lines. They’ll provide adequate capacity to evacuate power generation at the Karuma Hydro Power station (HPS),” Mr. Kiyemba said.

Construction should be complete in 2018 and the Karuma Interconnection Project’s commissioning in 2017. Klaus Langschield, a consultant with Gopa-International Energy, said they have the expertise to do the work within the specified time.

The government awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Consultancy (EPC) contract of the construction to Sinohydro Corporation.

intec – GOPA-International Energy is an independent German engineering and consulting company. It focuses on developing practical, innovative and cost-effective solutions for the design and improvement of Power Systems. It also focuses on the use of Renewable Energy sources and the application of Sustainable Energy technologies around the world.

April 2016

Construction of Karuma dam in Uganda hit by cement and labor shortage

Construction of Karuma dam in Uganda hit by cement and labour shortage

Contractors for the Karuma dam in Uganda had complaints over a shortage of the right quality of cement and workers that has adversely slowed their operations.

In a media brief to journalists over the weekend at the construction site, the Karuma Hydropower plant project liaison officer Mr. Qu Jinwei said they were forced to source the High grade 42.5 cement from Kenya since both Hima and Tororo cement factories could not deliver the qualities they need as they are used to producing the ordinary cement.

“We had an inspection at their factories before we started the project and after observing they could not supply the qualities, we had to look elsewhere and we found Savanah Cement in Kenya,” he said.

Project Challenges

In response to the causes of the cracks in the dam, he said the cracks do not have a direct correlation to the cement used because they are negligible and they happen all the time in such types of projects. He said they would hold consultations with the parent company in China so as to rectify them. Mr. Jinwei said another major challenge encountered is the lack of qualified dumper truck drivers who can work in the tunnels where a lot of the operations take place.

“We have had many drivers who come on-site but when we take them to the highly restricted area where most of our operations are, many of them cannot maneuver the trucks through the tunnels,” he said.

Mr. Alok Kala, Tororo Cement’s chief marketing manager rubbished remarks over the quality of their cement saying the contractor never bought their cement but they have been supplying it to the Isimba hydro dam.

One of the drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity, rubbished claims that Ugandan drivers cannot operate and manage the trucks, saying that the pay is way below the workload.

This comes barely a few days after senior officials’ suspension from the ministry of energy by President Museveni after it came to light that they did shoddy work at the Karuma and Isimba dams. Among those axed are Engineers Paul Mubiru, Henry Bidasala, and Cecilia Menya

Reported On May 25, 2016

Karuma construction project contract locks out suppliers in Uganda

A  Ugandan government official has said workers and suppliers in Uganda have no control in contributing to the ongoing Karuma construction project because the contractor is fully in charge of the contract.

Mr. Henry Bidasala Igaga, the electrical energy commissioner at the Ministry of Energy spoke about the issue. He said Ugandans should expose themselves to market forces. More especially in terms of meeting the qualities, quantities, and price that the contractors are offering because this is a “turn-Key contract”.

“The contractor is responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction materials, and services. What we want is delivery of the final product,” he said on the telephone on Monday.

‘Buy Uganda, Build Uganda’

Mr. Bidasala’s comments come after Ugandan manufacturers lodged several complaints.  They were mostly centered around their products being put aside in the ongoing construction project. Earlier in a different encounter, the contractor said that they did not source cement from Tororo and Hima cement plants. Their reason said being because they did not meet the quality and quantities of cement needed for the project.

In her comment on the matter, the executive director of Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority, Ms. Cornelia Sabiti, said under the Oil and Gas Act, the ‘Buy Uganda, Build Uganda’ policy requires that all materials for such projects should be from the local market but she is not sure if the same applies in the energy sector where this is a private contractor.

The government 2014 came up with the policy, following an outcry from the members of the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association. The complaints were highlighting their products were being sidelined for such projects.

Moving Forward

Likewise, Tororo Cement and Roofings Rolling Mills said that their cement and steel products are major inputs in the construction of the dam have been rejected by the contractor who instead would rather import the products from Kenya and China.

Mr. Alok Kala, the chief marketing officer at Tororo Cement Limited, said that in last year alone, the contractor brought in 32,000 metric tonnes of cement from  Kenya’s Savannah Cement which is also said to have Chinese links.

Countries dealing in gas and oil production or mining are coming up with ‘local content requirements.

The development of local content follows many years of oil and gas or mineral exploitation in several developing countries, where the citizens seem to benefit very little.

Reported On Dec 14, 2017

Compensation to delay Uganda’s Karuma Power Project

Difficulties in acquiring land for the Karuma interconnection project are likely to delay the commissioning of the 600MW hydropower plant. The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd chief executive officer, Mr. Harrison Mutikanga, has revealed.

The power plant, which began in August 2013, is due for commissioning in December 2018. However, according to Mr. Mutikanga, despite the progress of ongoing works at the Karuma Hydropower project, commissioning it on schedule remains uncertain. This is due to land-related issues where transmission lines will cross.

Electricity from the power plant’s evacuation will be through Karuma -Kawanda (305km), Karuma-Olwiyo (60km), and Karuma- Lira (80km). More than 4,000 affected people on the transmission routes will reeve compensation.

Mr. Mutikanga further said that they are working closely with the Ministry of Energy, the Finance Ministry, and Uganda Electricity Transmission Co Ltd (UETCL). “They have to ensure that the problems are rectified and the project remains on schedule,” he added.

Mr. Edward Mutesa, the principal project officer- social Aspect at UETCL, the firm undertaking the interconnection project; said that they are already behind schedule by six months due to emerging land disputes.

He noted that the biggest challenges are on the Karuma-Kawanda, the longest route where there are several overlapping titles by landowners between the Nakasongola and Wakiso districts.

According to Mr. Mutesa, owners of the land on the Karuma-Lira route have a lot of incitement from lawyers to get more money.


He said that out of the 4,135 people affected by the interconnection project, 2,791 have so far had compensation. This is a total of US $ 3m of the US $5.6m meant to compensate all the affected landowners.

Mr. Albert Byaruhanga, the Karuma Hydropower project manager, has also noted some concerns on the dam section and its power intake.

“According to its design, this project is to serve more than 50 years. However, we worry that it can create a lot more problems in the future during the operation of the plant. This will happen if there is no quality control,” Mr. Byaruhanga said.


As of February 2018, 74% of the project had been completed. In June of the same year, 76% of the work had been complete.

April 2019

As of April 2019, around 80% of the project was complete. Three high-voltage transmission lines were 80 to 85% complete at the time.

May 2019

Uganda’s Karuma power project is soon to be commissioned

Uganda’s Karuma power project soon to be commissioned

Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, the Chinese firm undertaking the construction of the 600MV Karuma power dam in Kiryandongo District, has revealed that the project is 95% complete. The project which commenced in 2013 is due for commissioning in December 2019.

Also Read: Malawi signs US $150m deal for Mpatamanga Hydroelectric project

Karuma hydroelectric power plant

The project, located in northwestern Uganda, has passed through great challenges before arriving at this completion stage. The construction company has begun to slow down the work after observing 2016 the appearance of cracks in the dam, which the company said was caused by climatic conditions in the area.

However, after resolving the issue, construction work progressed. Upon completion, the Karuma hydroelectric power plant will be the largest in the African country, with a production capacity of 600 MW.

Karuma power dam project funding is by both the government of Uganda and the Exim Bank of China. The government of Uganda is contributing 15% while China is financing the other 85% component.

The dam, which is at Karuma Falls, on the Victoria Nile will also be the first underground power plant in East Africa. Turbine capacity Alstom, a company based in Saint-Ouen, in northern France supplied the six turbines that equip the Karuma hydroelectric power plant.
Each of the turbines has a generating capacity of 100 MW. The electricity production by the plant will be from the Lira substation, which is under rehabilitation to support the 600 MW capacity. The kilowatt-hour (kWh) generation will approximately cost the Ugandan consumer US $0.049 during the first 10 years of the plant’s life.
Reported On Aug 24, 2018

Uganda’s Karuma Power Project nears its completion

Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, the Chinese firm undertaking the construction of the 600MV Karuma power dam in Kiryandongo District, has revealed that the project is 70% complete in accordance with the budget and time frame. The project which commenced on December 16, 2013, is due for commissioning in December 2018.

The company’s vice president, Mr. Wang Yantao, said that hydropower is economical, environmentally friendly, and will provide sustainable energy. “The Chinese government always supports and encourages Chinese enterprises and national institutions to construct hydropower projects to benefit the people,” he further added.

He revealed that the project now employs more than 5,000 workers including Ugandan and Chinese nationals.

However, the LC1 chairman for Karuma, Mr. Severino Opio, said residents are unhappy with the government since there is a lot of neglect. “The project is almost coming to and nothing is being done for the community,” he said.

The Oyam District chairperson, Mr. Nelson Adea Akar, said it would be fair for the constructor to employ residents. This is one way of making the community on the project. The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) chief executive officer, Eng Dr. Harrison Mutikanga, explained that they had so many activities planned and their priority was to concentrate on the hydropower project.

Significant progress

The hydropower project has progressed significantly. “At the moment, we are now embarking on the second stage; which is the employers’ facilities. It will then be followed by the community development action plan,” Dr. Mutikanga added.

He further added that, for Uganda to shift to a largely urban society, it must be propelled by electricity as a form of modern energy.


Uganda’s Karuma Hydropower project nears completion of its first turbine

Uganda is set to near completion of one of the six turbine units at the Karuma Hydro Power project. This is according to Sinohydro Corporation of China project manager Deng Changhyi who said the first unit of the turbines for generating power will be ready by November this year.

“This is a crucial milestone being achieved as it involves the installation of hydromechanical and electromechanical equipment. This set of equipment includes the turbine and associated parts like the bottom ring, head cover, wicket gate, turbine shaft, rotor, and stator. We have assembled the rotor for the first turbine unit on site after successful hoisting of the bottom ring for the same unit,” said Deng Changhyi.

Mr. Deng added that they have completed the installation of radial flood control gates and are almost completing civil works on the dam and water intake sections. The project will also create three new substations, at Karuma, Kawanda, and Olwiyo while the power on the Lira transmission line shall terminate at the already existing Lira substation.

September 2019

In September 2019, the project was 95% complete including 100% completion of the Karuma–Kawanda High Voltage Power Line, 100% of the Karuma–Lira High Voltage Line, and 98% of the Karuma–Olwiyo High Voltage Line.

Nov 2020

Karuma Hydro Power Plant construction in Uganda close to completion

Karuma Hydro Power Plant

The construction of Uganda’s Karuma Hydro Power Plant is nearing completion according to Deng Changyi, the project manager. Mr. Changyi said that most of the physical and installation works are finished and that only 2 percent of the entire work is now remaining. This includes works such as painting, cleaning up the tunnels, and building roads on the surface.

The project manager said that Sinohydro Corporation Ltd., the construction contractor has already applied for approval for the wet commissioning of turbines 1-3. He also revealed that the dry testing of turbines 4-6, each of which is designed to produce 100MW is ongoing.

Construction of power evacuation lines

Sinohydro is also in charge of the implementation of the Karuma Interconnection Project, which will facilitate the evacuation of power from the plant via three transmission lines.

Also Read: Uganda to construct the first Lake Victoria power submarine cable

The overall work on the project according to Sino hydro’s progress report has reached 94.5 percent completion. Most of the tower erection and stringing works have been done, except for a few places where there has been a challenge in accessing the right of way.

The contractor stated that the Government of Uganda is responsible for the acquisition of the land and handing it over for the construction works to continue.

Reported On Aug 14, 2021

Uganda upgrades power lines in readiness for Karuma hydropower station

The government of Uganda through Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) has launched an upgrade exercise for three power transmission lines in readiness for the start of operations of the currently under-construction Karuma hydropower station.

The transmission lines, in particular, are the 264 kilometers 400 kV Karuma-Kawanda power line that will link a high voltage substation in the power station, to another high voltage substation at Kawanda, in the Central Region of the East African country.

Also Read: Karuma Hydro Power Plant construction in Uganda close to completion

The other two lines are the 60 kilometers 400 kV Karuma-Olwiyo power line that will connect Karuma Power Station to a substation in Olwiyo, Nwoya District, and the 80 kilometers 132 kV Karuma-Lira power line that will link the Karuma power station to Lira.

The construction stage of the Karuma hydropower station

The Karuma hydropower station, located in the Kiryandongo district in the north-western region of Uganda is reportedly in the final stages of construction with approximately 98% of the entire work complete, thanks to Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering, and construction company that is carrying out the project.

Equipped with six 100 MW Francis turbines, the Karuma hydropower station is expected to have a capacity of about 600 MW upon completion.

Stable, reliable, and affordable electricity in Uganda

The electricity generated by the Kurama hydropower plant will guarantee stable, reliable, and affordable electricity in Uganda according to Stephen Kyeganwa Mukasa, UEGCL’s Head of Monitoring and Evaluation.

With the commissioning of the Karuma power plant, the East African country will reach a capacity of 1500 MW. Currently, Ugandans consume approximately 600 MW at peak hours.

The government has also revealed that once the plant is commissioned and fully utilized, the weighted generation tariff will reduce from the current US Cents 6.47/kWh to US Cents 5.34/kWh, indicating a 17.65% decrease.

Reported On Aug 15, 2021

The first tests of turbines at the Karuma hydropower dam in Uganda completed

The first phase of tests on key installations conducted by engineers has been completed successfully. The 600MW Karuma hydropower dam is located in Kiryandongo District in Western Uganda.

According to Mr. Li Ji, the deputy manager of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, which is undertaking the construction works, the tests have been conducted on the intake, radial and spillway gates, as well as some turbines.

“The first tests on the key equipment of the facility started at the end of July and ended last month. With the tests, the project now stands at 95% completion status,” said Ji.

Also Read: Uganda’s Karuma power project soon to be commissioned

Karuma hydropower dam project site

Workers on site are busy doing the final touches. These include removing debris, plastering and painting walls, and housing the caverns and generator units. While others cast concrete on access roads inside the tunnel.

Works on the outgoing line yard and switch yard (GIS) and transmission lines (Karuma-Lira and Karuma-Kawanda) are all 100% complete. Installation of the Karuma-Olwiyo line is currently 98% complete, according to the contractor.

All the civil works inside the powerhouse, dam’s intake and outfall concrete works are fully complete as well. except for the ecological ladder.

The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) said that construction of the fish ladder (a non-overflow section) is yet to be fully complete but is in a good course. This section will be enabling fish and other aquatic life in the dam to move freely upstream to feed and reproduce.

A team of Ugandan engineers is at the moment receiving training to manage the project,  Upon commissioning, they will take on responsibilities of operations and maintenance.

Reported On Sept 28, 2021

Karuma Hydropower plants powerhouse to be overhauled, Uganda

The Ministry of Energy in Uganda has directed the Karuma Hydropower Project contractor, Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd, to deploy more engineers on-site and correct all the wiring and electromechanical defects on the plant’s powerhouse.

This came to light when the Energy minister, Ms. Ruth Nankabirwa was addressing journalists during the project site tour.  She said that most of the cabling in the six power-generating units needs revisiting. Since the ones, the current ones do not meet the contract specifications. Furthermore, they were installed without approval from the government of the East African country.

The defects requiring correction at the Karuma Hydropower project

According to Mr. Albert Musoke Byaruhanga, the Karuma Hydropower project coordinator contracted under Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited, the defects requiring correction include mechanical installations, electrical cables, and general cabling where some cables do not meet contract specifications and international standards.

Mr. Byaruhanga said that if the power plant was commissioned as it was, “with the defects it could catch fire. Moreover, there would be many power outages and the facility would not be safe for the people working there.”

Also Read: Tanzania receives US $140M for Malagarasi hydropower plant

“In the last nine months, we rectified 40 percent of the defects and in the next nine months, we will be able to finish the rest.”

Government and the contractor trade blame over delays on the project

The government blames the Karuma Hydropower project contractor for the delay of the project. due to “a number of serious non-conformity issues and defects that need to be rectified”, Mr. Hoi Fuquiang, the KHPP, and Karuma Interconnection Project general manager said.  However, he further said, even after resubmission of drafts after recommendations of the new Owners Engineer, they continue to experience delays in getting feedback.

“Ideally we are to sit with the Owners Engineer to compare notes, but we have not had this opportunity to compare works in about six or seven months thus causing unnecessary delays,” said Mr. Fuquiang.

Aug 2022

Karuma hydroelectric power station partially complete

Karuma hydroelectric power station project recently marked the completion of the first phase of its power units.

According to the Sinohydro plant commercial manager, Mr. Kou Zhibin there have been enormous setbacks over time. These include the Covid-19 pandemic during which the contractor had to limit staff thus slagging on the construction progress. However, Zhibin said they have recorded substantial progress with 99% and 99.6% of the power station and transmission lines respectively complete.

The assistant project manager for UEGCL, Mr. Paul Tumwiine, on the other said that the project is currently undergoing dry tests, which signifies the completion of the installation works.

“These tests,” Tumwiine said, “only require meeting standards of safety as they are tests for power plants. They entail ensuring equipment’s installation, which is 99 percent physical progress and 1 percent activity in achieving functionality.”

Ms. Wonekha commended Sinohydro Cooperation for the successful completion of the power project. . Thereafter, it will start supplying half of its generation (300MW) next year. She said, “Many Ugandans have had great expectations for the presidential promise of more power. We yearn to see more of this as the facts and figures have shown,” she said.

The Chinese ambassador, Mr. Zhang Lizhong, and his Ugandan counterpart, Mr. Oliver Wonekha, commissioned the project, symbolizing Uganda-China cooperation.