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VP Ssekandi commissions the Nkonge Solar Power project. Photo The Observer


The Vice President of Uganda, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi commissioned a new solar power project in Mubende district on Wednesday, March 31.

Dubbed the Nkonge solar power project near the Kabamba military barracks, its construction has been undertaken by Xsabo Group (a Germany-based company), which has invested over Shs 63 billion.

Considering that only 38 per cent of Ugandans living in rural areas have access to electricity - largely from the main grid, Xsabo Group’s investment, is intended to ensure that more Ugandans, especially those in the villages, can have access to power for a better livelihood.

During the making of his speech, Ssekandi said that the government was delighted to have partners like Xsabo, fostering socio-economic transformation in Uganda.

“With more electricity being generated through the support of Xsabo Group, a number of communities near this power plant will be able to do more business, because of the easier access to electricity,” Ssekandi said.

Notably, the Nkonge project, whose construction starts with immediate effect, is expected to be completed by December this year. And at that point, it will be producing 20 megawatts of power, which is going to be distributed through the main national grid.

Bernard Okello, the general manager of Xsabo Group (Uganda office) told The Observer that the whole process of erecting this project, is to supplement the power from the main grid. Okello added, that the Nkonge plant will be connected to the main grid substation in Mubende through a wiring network from the solar panels, that will be installed.

This is the second of five solar power projects, that Xsabo Group is undertaking to construct in Uganda. The first one was built in Kabulasoke in 2018. By the time all of them are constructed, they will be contributing 150 megawatts of power to the main grid. All the five solar power projects are expected to cost a whopping Shs 735 billion.

In light of that, Ssekandi said that such an investment cements Uganda’s position as a key force in Africa for clean and sustainable energy for economic growth, social equity, a stable climate and a healthy environment. In addition, Ssekandi urged Ugandans especially those near the project to embrace activities to increase household income, which he said will come through industrialization and commercial agriculture.

Ssekandi commended Xsabo for this new power plant project because it supports the aforementioned government programmes. That said, the Nkonge solar power project is going to be a state of the art kind, with world-class automatic sun-tracking modules. It will be the most modern solar power plant in Africa.

However, David Alobo, the chief executive/managing director of Xsabo Group (the Germany head office) noted in his speech, that his company’s main motive is to harness smart energy storage technologies, to proactively integrate promising industrial opportunities, to create more jobs for Ugandans.

With renewable energy being one of the major issues, to guard against climate change and environmental degradation, Xsabo Group’s investment in Uganda, will further protect the forests, many of which have been cut for firewood in homes.

That is a particular concern, especially in the villages but if the locals get an alternative source of energy for lighting and even cooking, there will be little need to cut trees eventually.

The Nkonge project ground-breaking ceremony was also attended by the Democratic Party head, Norbert Mao, who commended Xsabo Group for their unwavering will to improve people’s lives.

Also, in attendance at the same event, was the German Ambassador to Uganda, Matthias Schauer, Lt. Gen. Charles Angina, the deputy chief coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation and Francis Kibuuka Amooti, the chairman of Mubende district local government. - John Vianney Nsimbe, The Observer

An aerial view of the ongoing construction of the Standard Gauge Railway line in Tanzania. Photo Nation Media Group


Tanzania's State power utility firm is will supply 70 megawatts of electricity to power the first phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR), which starts operations in the coming few months.

Energy minister Medard Kalemani told journalists on Sunday that the construction of power lines between Dar es Salaam (Kinyerezi) and Morogoro (Kingorwira) was complete and that Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) was ready to power the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) locomotives.

“We have invested Tsh71.1 billion (about $30.7 million) in building the necessary power infrastructure for the first phase of the SGR. The project is 100 per cent done,” he said, detailing a number of other projects that the government has implemented in the energy sector. He spoke when he attended a Tanesco workshop.

Dr Kalemani, who doubles as Chato MP, allayed fears that SGR train operations could be disrupted in times of power cuts, saying the locomotives will have inbuilt power-saving systems to will keep them charged for not less than one hour.

“Firstly, power disruptions will be reduced, but secondly, the locomotives will run in such a way that they are able to keep themselves powered for an hour to two from the time that a power cut happens,” said Dr Kalemani.

Tanzania, he said, was currently undertaking a number of power generation projects – including the 2,115 megawatts (MW) Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station - in an effort to meet the goal of producing 5,000 megawatts by the year 2025.

Data released by Tanesco’s managing director Tito Mwinuka and which was supported by Dr Kalemani, show that currently, the country produces 1,604 MW.

This is more than the current demand, which stands at 1,180MW.

“Our goal, therefore, is to ensure that we have enough power to support our country’s industrial drive while the excess will be exported,” said Dr Mwinuka.

According to Dr Kalemani, the Tsh6.5 trillion ($2.8 billion) Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station – had strategic importance to Tanzania’s economic development endeavours and that the government deserved a pat on the back for deciding to implement it.

He exuded confidence that the project, which is fully funded by the government, will be completed by June 2022.

“We will use our electricity as a means of strengthening our ties with neighbouring countries where we will export power to,” he said, detailing several reasons why President John Magufuli’s administration decided to implement the project which had been in planning books for decades.

According to Dr Kalemani, hydropower remains the cheapest source of electricity and this means that the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station will bring electricity costs down.

He said it costs only Tsh36 ($0.02) to produce a unit of electricity from water. Nuclear comes second because it costs Tsh65 ($0.03) to a unit.

Wind and geothermal are the third and fourth cheapest sources, with the production of each unit costing Tsh103 ($0.04) and Tsh112 ($0.05) respectively. - The Citizen

Ministry of Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma in Nairobi on February 25, 2021. Photo Francis Nderitu/Nation Media Group


The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is set to launch two mini-rockets from the Malindi Space Centre in collaboration with the University of Rome in August.

The rockets will be launched using high altitude balloons, an improvement of the earlier huge rockets that were being launched in the 1980s and 1990s.

This was revealed on Thursday during the opening of a space sector high-level engagement forum dubbed ‘The space sector we want in Kenya’ attended by Defence Cabinet Secretary Monicah Juma, KSA chairman Major-General (Rtd) James Arwasa, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director-General Gilbert Kibe and other stakeholders.

The use of high-altitude balloons as launch pads for mini-rockets and satellites reduces the cost of sending rockets into space, Mr Arwasa said.

He noted that “satellites and rockets have become smaller because of advances in technology.

“We’ve students who are already working on building and launching the two at the Malindi Space Centre. We’re working with the University of Rome.”

The launch was pushed to August after seven professors involved in the project from Rome tested positive for Covid-19.

“We were expecting nine professors from the University of Rome to join us to witness these students launching the mini-rockets, but unfortunately seven tested positive for Covid-19,” Mr Arwasa said.

The benefits of having satellites in space include selling data collected to other countries. It also means the availability of quality data for use in making efficient decisions in the fight against climate change, promotion of national security, enhancement of agriculture, learning, identifying areas with minerals through earth observation.

KSA, Mr Arwasa said, will ensure information is centralised and accessible to all to avoid duplication. - Mary Wambui, The EastAfrican

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