Uganda greenlights inaugural 10 MW solar plant

Dubai-based solar power developer Access Power MEA has been awarded the contract to construct the first utility-scale solar PV plant in Uganda.

Via its subsidiary Access Uganda Solar Limited, the company will construct, own and operate the 10 MW PV plant, which once complete will also become the largest independent solar power project in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

The installation is located in the region of Soroti in the northeastern corner of the east African country. Once connected to the grid, the plant will generate enough solar power to meet the annual power needs of 40,000 local households.

Access Power MEA won a competitive bidding process to win the tender, seeing off six other EPCs to earn the approval of the Ugandan Government. The project will be the first in the country to benefit from the GET FiT Solar Facility, which is a dedicated solar PV support scheme that is managed by German development bank KfW on behalf of the local government and the European Union Infrastructure Trust Fund.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to thousands of households in Uganda," said Access Power MEA chairman Reda El Chaar. "The GET FiT program is a fine practical example of additionality that accelerates private investment into a sector with high developmental impact."

The projects is expected to cost US$17 million and Access Power MEA hopes that it will commence commercial operations by December 2015. "The tariff for the project over the period of 20 years will be US$0.16.3/kWh," added Access Power MEA’s MD, Stephane Bontemps. "However, the end users in Uganda will only pay $0.11/kWh through the electricity tariff, with the remaining costs paid by the GET FiT solar program."

The FiT solar program goes some way to replacing Uganda’s legacy FIT scheme, which was unceremoniously dumped in 2013 with very little warning, and a mere two years after it was first introduced.