Last update:
2015-12-18

Bujagali hydropower project, Uganda


Description:

The controversial Bujagali dam project began in 1999 when the Ugandan government commissioned AES Nile Power to construct and operate the Bujagali hydropower plant on the Victoria Nile river. The company withdrew before construction began and a new consortium - Sithe Global Power LLC, from the United States, and Industrial Promotion Services, a division of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) - were appointed to construct the dam. Construction began 2007 and the dam began delivering electricity in 2012 with a reported capacity of 250 megawatts[1]. Loans came from the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank. Italian construction company Salini was selected to be lead contractor. Civil society organizations locally and internationally rallied against the project. Chief complaints were that resettlement and compensation of affected communities was inadequate and that people were worse-off than they originally were [2,4]. Related complaints included a lack of consultation and loss of livelihoods. They asserted that economic analysis of the dam and the cost to the Ugandan public was inadequate, supporting other analyses linking the project to a global privatisation trend and involvement of private companies in electricity provision[3], a World Bank pushed reform agenda.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Bujagali hydropower project, Uganda
Country:Uganda
State or province:Central Region
Location of conflict:Buikwe District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:
Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The claimed capacity of the dam is 250 MW, but civil society organization the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has claimed that only 121MW can be generated, based on river run-offs. NAPE reports that electricity tariffs have continued to hike from six US cents to the current 24 US cents. A government subsidy reduces this to 17 US cents, a figure NAPE says is still unaffordable to most Ugandans.

Level of Investment:900000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:34 million (population of Uganda)
Start of the conflict:1999
Company names or state enterprises:Bujagali Energy Limited from Uganda
Sithe Global from United States of America
AES Nile Power from Uganda
Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd.
Salini Impregilo from Italy
AES Corporation (AES) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, National Environmental Management Authority , Electricity Regulatory Authority
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
African Development Bank (AfDB)
European Investment Bank (EIB)
Agha Khan (AKDN) from Kenya
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda Wildlife Society, International Rivers, Save Bujagali Crusade
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Migration/displacement
Development of alternatives:Literature on the conflict indicates that the Bujagali appraisal studies did not adequately assess Bujagali against other alternative energy options, like solar and wind power, before determining Bujagali dam as the least-cost and most appropriate option[6].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project went ahead and is now in full operation. It is regarded by scholars of privatisation as a thin edge of the wedge project in attempts by external actors to push a private sector agenda to electricity provision.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ugandan Electricity Act

ACT 1999.pdf
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] NAPE Uganda. Fact Sheet on the Bujagali Hydropower Project In Uganda. Undated. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
[click to view]

[2] NAPE Uganda (2007). The unresolved issues in the Bujagali Dam Project in Uganda. Available at: Accessed: 19 November 2012.
[click to view]

[4] African Development Bank, Independent Review Panel (2008). Compliance review report on the Bujagali Hydropower and interconnection projects. Available at: Accessed 18 November 2012.
[click to view]

[3] Gore, Christopher (2012). Electricity and privatisation in Uganda: The origins of the crisis and problems with the response in Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid by McDonald, David.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Daily Monitor. (2012). Power outages continue despite launch of Bujagali. Available at Accessed 19 November 2012.
[click to view]

Standard Digital News. (2012) Ugandas Bujagali power plant switched on. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Both Ends (2009). Bujagali: A climate sensitive investment? Available at Accessed: 30 December 2012.
[click to view]

Environmental Monitoring Group (2006). Bujagali - Six stories of resettlement. Available at: Accessed: 30 December 2012.
[click to view]

Greeff, Liane (2008). Bujagali Dam Affected. Flickr photo gallery. Available at: Accessed 30 December 2012.
[click to view]

Aerial view of Bujagali complex:
[click to view]

View of the dam:
[click to view]

VIDEOS:

PHOTOS:

NTV Uganda video news report (2011). Bujagali dam submerges 6 Islands. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update18/12/2015
Comments
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