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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.

The affected people which need to be resettled are 13,760.

Basic Data

NameBujagali hydropower project, Uganda
CountryUganda
ProvinceCentral Region
SiteBuikwe District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe 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 (in USD)900000000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population34 million (population of Uganda)
Start Date1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesBujagali 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 actorsUgandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, National Environmental Management Authority , Electricity Regulatory Authority
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
African Development Bank (AfDB)
European Investment Bank (EIB)
Agha Khan (AKDN) from Kenya
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNational Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda Wildlife Society, International Rivers, Save Bujagali Crusade

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions

Impacts

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-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Migration/displacement
Development of AlternativesLiterature 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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

Legislations

Ugandan Electricity Act

ACT 1999.pdf
http://opm.go.ug/assets/media/resources/145/ELECTRICITY

References

[1] NAPE Uganda. Fact Sheet on the Bujagali Hydropower Project In Uganda. Undated. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/Wmef2f.

[2] NAPE Uganda (2007). The unresolved issues in the Bujagali Dam Project in Uganda. Available at: Accessed: 19 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/WQy2UN

[4] African Development Bank, Independent Review Panel (2008). Compliance review report on the Bujagali Hydropower and interconnection projects. Available at: Accessed 18 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/T4XqDs.

[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

Daily Monitor. (2012). Power outages continue despite launch of Bujagali. Available at Accessed 19 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/UFhNXB.

Standard Digital News. (2012) Ugandas Bujagali power plant switched on. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/Ta2JDP.

Media Links

Both Ends (2009). Bujagali: A climate sensitive investment? Available at Accessed: 30 December 2012.
http://bit.ly/TSn4AE.

Environmental Monitoring Group (2006). Bujagali - Six stories of resettlement. Available at: Accessed: 30 December 2012.
http://bit.ly/TyO8S7.

Greeff, Liane (2008). Bujagali Dam Affected. Flickr photo gallery. Available at: Accessed 30 December 2012.
http://bit.ly/TyO8S7.

Aerial view of Bujagali complex:
http://p.twimg.com/A4qsxO-CUAAMyKS.jpg

View of the dam:
http://bit.ly/RZwxWc

VIDEOS:

PHOTOS:

NTV Uganda video news report (2011). Bujagali dam submerges 6 Islands. Available at Accessed 18 November 2012.
http://bit.ly/Q3pZ6M.

Meta Information

ContributorPatrick Burnett
Last update18/12/2015