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  energy alternatives  

Uganda clearly needs power, but questions remain as to whether a large dam – and particularly a dam at the Bujagali site – is the most appropriate approach for the poor, indebted nation. Although less than 10% of the Ugandan population has access to electricity, most citizens could not afford Bujagali"s costly power even if they were offered free connections to the national grid. In addition, climate change is expected to make large hydro more risky in East Africa, and Uganda is already dependent on two large dams for meeting nearly all of its energy needs.

Local activists working on this issue are pressing for a national energy plan that takes into account the needs of the poor and emphasizes true renewables like geothermal, solar, micro–hydro and biomass. The country has 400–500 MW of small–hydro potential, and up to 450MW of geothermal reserves. Ugandan NGOs believe a commitment to big hydropower now will come at the expense of the rural poor and may preclude Uganda from pursuing better options. Below are a few resources.

  • A Geothermal Development Guide
    By the Ugandan NGO National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE). Read "Promoting Sustainable Energy Development: An investment guide to geothermal development in Uganda (A Civil Society Perspective)," 2005.

  • A Review by IRN of a Study Commissioned by the IFC
    The IFC study purported to look at alternative electricity generating options for Uganda. The IFC is currently reviewing the Bujagali Dam project, August 2, 2000.

  • Would You Like a Dam With That Dam?
    Bujagali Project Torpedoes Options Assessment for Uganda: A new report reviews how an expensive, destructive dam became the only game in town for energy–starved Uganda, September 19, 2003.

  • Geothermal Energy: A Hot Option for Uganda
    Article from World Rivers Review, (PDF format, pg. 14) June 2003.

  • IFC Economic Study for Bujagali Flawed
    The economic analysis justifying the World Bank’s involvement in Uganda’s Bujagali Dam is based on over–optimistic assumptions about growth in GDPand electricity demand. It ignores good alternatives to the project, such as geothermal. And it fails to look at the implications of global warming on the Nile’s hydrology, which could have serious impacts on the dam’s viability, (PDF format) November 17, 2001.

   
Additional Information

Solar Power in Uganda: Links

 

For further information, please contact:

    Lori Pottinger, International Rivers Network
    E–mail: lori@irn.org
    Phone: +1 510–848–1155