BY INNOCENT KIIZA
Kiiza is an accomplished environmental investigative journalist with a dedicated focus on matters pertaining to climate change, aquatic resources, and the preservation of wildlife.
In a significant stride towards fostering sustainable development and regional collaboration, the recent 31st Nile Council of Ministers’ Meeting hosted in Uganda unveiled a transformative vision – the Nkenda-Beni-Bunia Power Interconnection project.
This ambitious endeavor holds the promise of redefining energy cooperation between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), ushering in a new era of socio-economic growth for the region.
The foundation for this landmark project was laid during the addresses delivered by regional leaders at the Nile Council of Ministers’ Meeting.
Rt. Hon. Robina Nabanja, Prime Minister of Uganda, underscored the pivotal role of regional water security and Uganda’s commitment to promoting regional cooperation for sustainable water resource management and development.
While specific project details are still forthcoming, initial reports suggest that feasibility studies and groundwork have already commenced. A joint committee, comprising representatives from Uganda, DR Congo, and potentially other stakeholders, is expected to oversee the project’s development, with a proposed completion date as early as February of the following year.
As the Nile Basin countries embark on this transformative journey, the Nkenda-Beni-Bunia Power Interconnection emerges as a symbol of the remarkable potential of regional collaboration to shape a brighter and more prosperous future for all.
Notably, the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program – Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU), in collaboration with the East African Power Pool (EAPP), has already achieved significant milestones.
The synchronization of the Uganda-DRC Power interconnection is one such achievement. Key accomplishments include the completion of sub-stations in Ntenda, Uganda, and Beni Bunia, DR Congo, along with the establishment of connecting transmission lines spanning 220kV over 172 kilometers. The Ugandan section of the line has been successfully energized up to the border.
This synchronization is pivotal, filling a crucial gap in the puzzle of regional energy collaboration. The electric grids of Kenya and Uganda, as well as Rwanda and Burundi, are already in synchronized operation.
The commissioning of the Uganda-DRC interconnection represents a vital link enabling the parallel operation of the electric grids of five East African countries, which includes Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, according to Eng Oduor Alloyce of the Rusumo project.
DR Congo’s Role and Call for Strengthening Cooperation
DR Congo has recognized the potential of the proposed power interconnection, aligning it with the country’s development goals and its contribution to the socio-economic upliftment of the region.
This interconnection holds the promise of not only providing power but also symbolizing a new chapter in the collaborative journey of Nile Basin countries towards shared prosperity.
Hon. Pal Mai Deng, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of South Sudan, articulated the challenges facing his country, including economic crises and climate change impacts. Nevertheless, South Sudan remains committed to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) and shared visions, illustrating the transformative potential of regional projects.
The Ambassador of Rwanda to Uganda, representing Dr. Jean d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment of Rwanda, emphasized the importance of strengthened cooperation at both technical and political levels.
The focus was on joint investment projects aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6.5 on integrated water resources management and transboundary cooperation. This cooperative spirit resonates with the core of the proposed power interconnection.
The Tale of Collective Vision and Resilience
The Nkenda-Beni-Bunia Power Interconnection isn’t just an energy project; it’s a comprehensive regional initiative transcending borders and fostering sustainable development. It narrates a story of collective vision, resilience, and unwavering commitment to transformative projects within the Nile basin states.
The Nkenda-Beni-Bunia Power Interconnection represents a significant stride towards regional cooperation in energy and sustainable development.
As this transformative endeavor takes shape, it stands as a testament to the potential of nations working together to overcome challenges and seize opportunities for mutual growth. The region is poised to reap the rewards of enhanced energy collaboration, paving the way for a brighter future for all involved.