Uganda power distributor Umeme to invest $83 mln to boost network

KAMPALA, June 29 (Reuters) – Uganda’s sole electricity distributor, Umeme Limited UMEME.UG, plans to spend 310 billion shillings ($83.27 million) this year to boost grid capacity and quality, its chief executive said on Monday.

The investments will help the firm distribute more power from a new hydropower plant being built by Chinese firm Sinohydro SINOH.UL on the Nile river, which is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

"We need to increase the network capacity to deliver this power to end users," Umeme CEO Selestino Babungi told a news conference.

The East African nation has sufficient power supplies but consumers routinely suffer from outages caused by breakdowns along the aged and fragile distribution infrastructure.

Umeme, which is listed on both the Ugandan and Kenyan stock exchanges, will construct new, high voltage lines and switching stations to make power supplies more stable, Babungi said.

When Karuma comes online, it will increase Uganda’s generation capacity to more than 1,800 megawatts.

The government plans to drive up access to electricity to 60% of the population by 2027 from the current 25%.

($1 = 3,723.0000 Ugandan shillings)

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Andrew Cawthorne)

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