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Uganda: World Bank Approves Funding for Hydropower

The World Bank (WB) has agreed to extend to Uganda a US$360 million loan to build a controversial 250MW hydropower station on the River Nile, according to a Bank statement issued in Kampala on Friday.

The statement said the project, which has been opposed by environmentalists, would help close the country’s energy gap, which the Bank said “seriously constrains social and economic development”.
“Uganda’s workforce is expected to double over the next 15 years, making the creation of jobs through expanded industry, tourism and commercial services critical,” Judy O’Connor, the Bank’s country director for Uganda, said.

“These sectors are energy intensive and will therefore rely on a consistent, affordable and expanding power supply,” she noted. “Bujagali [hydropower station] is an important step towards realising the needed level and quality of supply.”

The project at Bujagali ran into trouble after environmentalists expressed concern that the dam would drown the natural falls, and urged the government to preserve the falls by opting for less harmful and cheaper energy alternatives.

They also said the falls and rapids were a significant tourism attraction and water rafting site, as well as a site of spiritual significance to the local population.


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