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Eskom’s Uganda unit plans $16m upgrade

Investing in fibre optic lines linking two plants, as well as upgrading equipment.

Eskom’s Ugandan unit will invest $16 million through 2018 upgrading equipment at two hydropower plants it manages in the East African country.

The South African utility’s Eskom Uganda Ltd. will invest in fiber optic lines linking the Nalubaale and Kiira plants across the Nile River, Nokwanda Mngeni, the outgoing managing director, said Wednesday in an interview in the capital, Kampala. It will also upgrade other equipment at Kiira, she said.

The company has already spent about $20 million refurbishing the plants since 2003, when it won a 20-year concession to run them. Kiira has an installed capacity of 200 megawatts and Nalubaale has 180 megawatts, with both located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of the capital, Mngeni said.

“The investment is for the fiber optic work to be finished this year, putting up transformers in our sub-stations and some work in Kiira station upgrade” said Mngeni.

The Ugandan unit has annual gross revenue of about 50 billion shillings ($15 million) and operates autonomously from its parent company, which supplies more than 95 percent of power in SouthAfrica, she said. Eskom Uganda is operating at 42 percent of installed capacity as it can only generate a maximum of 220 megawatts during peak hours due to water usage restrictions, according to Mngeni.

The company plans to bid to run the 600-megawatt Karuma hydropower plant being built by Beijing-based Sinohydro Corp. and a 183-megawatt project developed by China International Water & Electric Corp., she said. The government expects the two projects to begin generation in 2018.

©2015 Bloomberg News

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