News / Africa

Power Cuts Hurt Uganda Businesses

Ugandan women chat in a shop lit by a paraffin lamp in the capital Kampala (file photo)
Ugandan women chat in a shop lit by a paraffin lamp in the capital Kampala (file photo)

Extended power cuts are on the rise in Uganda, with entire neighborhoods being plunged into darkness for days on end. Over the past month, an acute power deficit has led to extended electricity cuts across the country.  Some homes, businesses and even hospitals are going without power for days at a time.

In the past week, frustrated shopkeepers in central Kampala blockaded roads and burned tires in protest.  Some said they had been without electricity for four days, and that the cuts were crippling their businesses.

A woman who runs a printing business in the capital says she has lost a lot of money over the past several weeks.

“Last week we had power for just two days.  It’s getting worse every day," she complained.  "I am about to make redundant two members of staff, because there is no work.  You lose customers, because every time they come in there’s no power.  So we’ve lost customers.  We don’t know where they do their printing.”

But, she adds, it is not just a question of losing customers.  She says that the darkened streets and noisy generators have also been attracting thieves, who steal merchandise and rob pedestrians.

“When there’s so much noise they break into shops," she notes.  "People cannot do business after 6:00 p.m., because the thieves are taking advantage.  They used to open at six in the morning, but now the shopkeepers, they open shops around eight, because they can no longer walk to their workplace early enough because of the risk in the darkness.”

These extended power cuts are known as “load-shedding," which means cutting power to parts of the grid when there is not enough electricity to go around.  The current power deficit is more than 100 megawatts a day.

Part of the problem is that several power plants have been shut down because the Ugandan government has failed to pay millions of dollars worth of bills.  But recently damaged equipment has made the situation worse.

Uganda’s main energy distributor, Umeme, says the situation is not likely to improve in the near future.   

“A fault occurred which caused a fire that damaged equipment at the substation," said Umeme spokeswoman Florence Nsubuga.  "The equipment that was damaged cannot be replaced easily.  The works require extensive input, whereby just unbundling the equipment would take some time.”

Uganda’s energy problem goes even deeper.  Even with functioning equipment, Umeme is unable to meet the country’s needs.  A government study earlier this year found that energy demand will most likely triple in the coming decade.

In order to bridge this energy gap, the Ugandan government has been focusing on developing hydroelectricity.  Two dam projects - the Karuma Dam and the Bujagali Dam - are slated to begin operation in the next few years.

Kapil Kapoor, Uganda Country Manager for the World Bank, says this is where revenues from the country’s newfound oil reserves will most likely be invested.

“One of the biggest investments that they see happening in the next four or five years is the Karuma dam, which has possibly a capacity of six, seven hundred megawatts," explained Kapoor. "So what they would like to see is earnings for three or four years from oil all being parked into a fund, which will go to finance Karuma dam.”

Kapoor says that all the royalties the Ugandan government has earned so far from foreign oil companies - around $400 million - have been earmarked for future investment in the energy sector.

The Bujagali Dam is expected to be operational next year, supplying Uganda with up to 250 megawatts more power - enough to cover the current deficit.  But until then, Ugandan businesses will be left struggling to make ends meet with the little power they have.



You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid