The year 2018 has been an exciting one for the GET FiT Programme. Four more hydropower plants with a total capacity of 29 MW were commissioned and we congratulate the Government of Uganda, the Programme’s development partners and the project developers on this achievement. In addition, important improvements of the grid infrastructure commenced during the second half of the year, which will improve the grid integration of the portfolio and have a lasting impact on the country’s electricity sector and access targets.
For me personally, 2018 was a very special year in the GET FiT Programme, since I was present at the inauguration ceremony of the Nkusi hydropower project on the 11th of October. This remarkable story started with a walk in the Rwenzoris by some petroleum engineers based in Stavanger, Norway, a few years ago. They came up with an idea, followed by a lot of innovation, courage and financial guts. The engineers’ ideas coincided with the roll-out of the GET FiT Programme, and the rest is history. Nkusi is also an excellent example of job creation and “local content”. The site team included Ugandans, South Africans, Peruvians and Norwegians, with 93-94 % Ugandan site staff in the final stages. The construction was challenging and involved drilling and blasting a 900 m long tunnel.
In addition to the GET FiT Programme, Norway has funded essential infrastructure for the distribution and transmission of electricity. During 2018, the high voltage line from Nkenda to Hoima was commissioned, financed with a USD 35 million grant. The 225 kilometres line is a key part of the national electricity infrastructure, facilitating electricity evacuation and more efficient transmission from the power stations.
The great progress of the GET FiT Programme so far also comes with certain obstacles that need to be addressed and observed closely in the coming months. A timely completion of the grid infrastructure reinforcements is a central element that determines the successful commissioning of the remaining portfolio of projects under construction. On a sector level, a generation surplus is emerging, which will require significant efforts to increase demand and develop export routes.
The GET FiT Programme has demonstrated a successful Public Private Partnership in the development of Uganda’s energy sector – serving as an example for future GET FiT Programme designs. Norway is pleased to see that the GET FiT Programme is now also being rolled-out in other countries.