In the West Nile region of Uganda, a dire need for consistent and industrially reliable electricity has left leaders and residents frustrated, prompting them to press the government for a connection to the national grid. The region, currently dependent on West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo), powered by Nyagak hydropower and Electromax thermal generators, has faced severe criticism due to frequent power outages.
Despite multiple deadline extensions granted by the energy ministry, West Nile remains disconnected from the national grid, and the situation shows no signs of improvement. The region’s reliance on WENRECo and its generators has raised concerns about the reliability of the power supply, hindering industrial and economic development.
During the celebration of Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki’s 40th priestly anniversary in Arua City, Sam Wadri Nyakua, the Arua City mayor, openly called upon the government to expedite the process of connecting the region to a more dependable power source. Nyakua attributed the region’s underdevelopment to its lack of adequate power for production and emphasized the urgent need for change.
Wadri Nyakua went on to emphasize the political implications of failing to connect West Nile to the national grid, suggesting that it might cost President Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement in the upcoming 2026 general elections. He pointed out that the region’s poverty levels could only be alleviated with reliable electricity, as the current supply from WENRECo is insufficient for productive purposes.
Betty Amongi Akena, the Minister for Gender, Labor, and Social Development, represented the President during the event and revealed that the President had instructed Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa to provide a comprehensive report to the cabinet regarding the progress of connecting the region to the national grid. She urged West Nile’s MPs to follow up on this matter with the energy minister before the final report is presented in two weeks.
Parliament has also weighed in on the power crisis in the West Nile region, adopting a motion on August 11, 2022, that calls on the government to address the electricity supply challenges urgently. The motion, presented by Lawrence Songa Biyika, the Ora County MP and chairperson of the West Nile Parliamentary Forum, demands that the government allocate funds to the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) to supply fuel to Electromax. This would enable Electromax to generate the licensed 8.2 megawatts of electricity, which would then be supplied to WENRECo for a stable electricity supply.
In a bid to resolve the longstanding power shortage in West Nile, a concession agreement was granted to WENRECo in 2003, authorizing them to generate, distribute, and sell electricity for 20 years. To supplement power generation, Electromax was introduced when WENRECo struggled to meet the region’s electricity demands. Biyika’s motion calls on the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to expedite the evacuation of electricity to West Nile and speed up work at substations in Arua and Nebbi districts for a national grid connection.
Furthermore, the motion urges the government to release the necessary funds to complete the 6.6 megawatts at Nyagak III and replace the second turbine at Nyagak to generate the full 3.5 megawatts of installed capacity, as opposed to the current 1.7 megawatts produced. This motion received unanimous support from the MPs, highlighting the pressing need for the government to address the power challenges faced by the region.