Uganda on Friday experienced a nationwide power blackout for a better part of the afternoon, bringing several businesses to a standstill across the country.

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) announced via its official X handle, formerly Twitter that the nationwide power blackout followed a load rejection test at Karuma Hydro Power Plant.

“Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) Informs the general public that a national blackout has been registered this morning following a load rejection test at the Karuma Hydro Power Plant. System restoration is underway,” UETCL Stated via X-platform formerly Twitter.

The load rejection test is one of the essential tests carried out before the hydroelectric generating set is put into operation formally.

The 600-megawatt Karuma Hydro Power Plant is located along the River Nile in Kiryandongo District. It is expected to increase the installed electricity capacity in the country to 2,000 Megawatts once it’s fully operational.

Enoch Kusasira, the Head of Communication & Corporate Affairs at Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), said the generation firm undertook a commissioning trial test at the Karuma Hydro power plant that led to the national blackout.

Enoch said as part of the commissioning test, they had to switch off all other dams to enable the team to assess if all the generating units at the Hydro Power plant could be put on the national grid.

“What I can tell you is that we are testing the plant on the grid, and these are part of the trial tests. you know the plant is almost complete and we are trying to see if we can have all the generating units on the grid,” said Kusasira.

Adding “While doing that, sometimes you need the entire grid, so you first switch off all the other dams and you try the plant on the grid and that’s why it causes that kind of blackout,” said Kusasira.

In May this year, UEGCL announced all six units at the Hydro Power Dam had been synchronized to the national grid, a feat the firm says brings them closer to the commissioning of the largest power plant in the country.

Construction of the power plant commenced in August 2013 and was meant to be completed by July 2019, but it has since been pushed to September this year.

The project worth $1.7 Billion is jointly funded by the Ugandan Government at 15 percent and through a soft loan from the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China (85 Percent).

Once completed, the plant is expected to address the power challenges in Northern Uganda, especially in the West Nile region which has long been relying on unstable off-grid electricity.

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited, (UETCL), is currently undertaking the Construction of 294 km of 132kV double circuit transmission line from Kole district, through the districts of Gulu and Nebbi, to Arua (KGNA).

Muhammad Lubogo, the Manager of Public and Corporate Communications at UEGCL said the overall transmission line construction is already 96 percent complete.

He noted that the substation in Gulu city is already complete while Nebbi and Arua are undergoing testing before the commissioning.

According to Lubogo, the general transmission line is expected to be commissioned on August 30 this year by President Museveni.

In February this year, the government commissioned the 83KM 132kV Gulu – Agago transmission line which evacuates power from the 83Megawatt Agago/Achwa Hydropower Plant.

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