UGANDA’S PERPETUAL ENERGY CRISIS: THE PRICE OF DECEIT
Teddy Sseezi Cheeye
The Source: The Uganda Confidential No. 542 of November 2009
Editor Teddy Sseezi – Cheeye
(Much of the content in reference to the title can be got from the source – The Uganda Confidential No. 542 of November 2009, however, briefly the editor; Cheeye points out that the companies in power business used a ‘deceitful mentality,’ in which they black mailed Uganda Government into giving them billions of shillings in subsidies – given that it is easier to collect billions of shillings deposited by Government into an account than collecting from thousands of consumers and or cheaters).
One of the many sad cases in the energy sector was the $20 million Uganda Government contract with a Canadian Company called Acres International, in 1993, to supervise the construction of the $300 million power extension project at then Jinja Owen Falls Dam. The project, which was supposed to be built under the sole advice of Acres International, was to be completed between 1994 and 2000. The project had raised high expectations in a country that experienced frequent power cuts.
The story started in 1945 when the colonial British Government appointed British Consultant firms Kennedy and Donkin and Sir Alexander Gibbs to do a feasibility study for the construction of Jinja Owen Falls Hydropower Dam, which was built at a cost of British Pounds 7,418,971. The dam was commissioned in 1954. One of the issues that Sir Gibbs and Kennedy and Donkin established was the historical data of the water levels of both Lake Victoria and River Nile. The establishment of water levels was important.
The average historically guaranteed water to Egypt was quoted at 660 cubic metres per second, based on water levels in Lake Victoria at 11.04 meters high. If water levels in the lake went to 10 meters, then Egypt would get a minimum 550 cubic meters per second. But if the water levels went up to 12 meters high, then Egypt would get 880 cubic meters per second.
In 1962, Uganda received abnormal heavy rains; between 1962 and 1968, Lake Victoria levels shot up 13 meters high, causing cracks in the dam, and forcing the opening of the sluices, which allowed excessive water to flow down river, all the way to Egypt. The sudden increase in water levels surprised the British Government. The latter then sponsored a study to come up with a solution to further increases I water flow threats.
In 1986, Sir Gibbs, Kennedy and Donkins (1986) advised the NRM Government that an extension to the old Owen Falls Dam be built, at horizontal levels, to be used during ‘peak period’ when water levels suddenly shot up. The expected station was supposed to generate an additional 80 MW only. It was never meant to be a fully – independent hydro power station. Unfortunately, by 1990 when Uganda borrowed $84 million from the World Bank to construct the second power dam, a lot of political water had passed under the bridge: The British Government had lost its political grip on the prudent management of Uganda’s power sector.
The then Managing Director of Uganda Electricity Board (UEB), Mr. A. R. Rutta had studied Construction Engineering in Canada where he came to know the Canada based Acre International. So, when time came for Uganda to contract a Consultant to design and oversee construction of the 2nd Extension Power Project, he successfully lobbied for the job to be given to Acre International. When Acre International won the contract, they maintained that the 1962 – 1968 high water levels would remain the same for ever. This led to wrangles between the companies (British and Canadian Acres International), funding was frozen to Uganda after Kennedy and Donkin wrote to World Bank that Acres International had fed them on lies. World Bank appointed one Cassidy to arbitrate. In his judgment, Mr. Cassidy exonerated Acre International. He said that there were 99% chances that the high water levels would remain unchanged forever. On their part, Kennedy and Donkin argued that the changes in water levels were a result of global warming, and that the raise in water levels was therefore temporary. Over the years, the British companies were proved right.
Armed with what eventually turned out to be a false verdict, Acres International went ahead and designed a new fully fledged second Jinja Power station with expected capacity of 200 MW.
Uganda Government went ahead and borrowed $300 million in a bid to increase power generation from 60MW to 180MW at the Owen Falls Dam, and construction of the Extension of the Second Hydro Power Project which was supposed to generate 200MW.
As soon as the two dams were completed, both Acre International and the World Bank realized that actually the water was not enough to generate the promised total 380MW.
WHAT ABOUT BUJAGALI?
At a period when construction of hydro-power stations averaged $1.2 million per MW, Bujagali inflated their cost to $2.5 million per MW. It is now (2009) well over $3.4 million per MW, while elsewhere, the cost is only $1.6 million. At the end of it all, Ugandans will pay the highest electricity tariffs in the world.
CHEEYE SENT TO LUZIRA OVER GLOBAL FUND
Wednesday, 22nd October, 2008
By Charles Ariko and Edward Anyoli
THE Director of Economic Affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Ssezi Cheeye, was yesterday charged with 26 offences related to the mismanagement of the Global Fund and remanded to Luzira Prison.
Only hours later, the former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, was charged with 14 counts of misuse of Global Fund money at the same court, and also sent to Luzira.
They are the first suspects to be prosecuted in the Global Fund scandal, two years after the Justice Ogoola Commission revealed gross mismanagement of the $43m donor fund, meant to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Cheeye had reported to the CID headquarters in the morning, where he was put under arrest. He was escorted to the court by William Kanonko, the head of the Anti-Fraud Squad, and Policemen armed with AK-47 rifles.
Dressed in a Kintege shirt, the former publisher of Uganda Confidential, appeared composed as the charges were read to him before Emmanuel Sayekwo, the Grade One magistrate of Buganda Road Court. He denied all of them.
Immediately afterwards, prosecutor Jane Okuo asked for the accused to be committed to the High Court for trial, adding that the investigations were complete.
Cheeye, 50, a resident of Naguru Hill in Nakawa Division, is alleged to have embezzled sh120m between March and December 2005 through his company, Uganda Centre for Accountability, where his wife was also a director.
He was charged with eight offences of forgery, nine offences of making false entries in accounts and eight offences of uttering false documents.
The prosecutor said Cheeye and other Global Fund suspects were likely to be tried by the newly created Anti-Corruption Court.
While remanding Cheeye to Luzira Prison, the magistrate said: “This court does not have the jurisdiction to try you or grant you bail. You are remanded until the next High Court’s convenient session.”
According to the evidence, Cheeye’s company received sh120m for monitoring, evaluation and supervision of Global Fund money in the districts of Rakai, Kabale, Ntungamo and Mbarara.
The prosecution argues that Cheeye submitted false bank balances to the Project Management. Okuo said Police investigations found that Cheeye never spent sh4.8m on hiring vehicles from Come Again Tours, as he had claimed, as the company did not exist.
The prosecution further argues that the accountability for fuel by the company totalling about sh16m was also found to be fraudulent.
It established that vehicle number UAA 688T, said to have consumed petrol from several fuel stations, was in reality a tractor that used diesel.
Okuo also told the court that the district officials, where Cheeye was supposed to have carried out audits, denied any knowledge of the company’s activities, and that workshops purportedly organised in Kabale and Kyotera never took place.
According to the prosecutor, fictitious names and signatures were used in the attendance lists.
The prosecution further argues that accountability worth sh100m was found to be false and fraudulent, with some of the documents confirmed forged by the handwriting expert.
Kavuma was charged with 14 counts, including forgery, uttering false documents, obtaining money by false pretence, abuse of office, impersonation, and fraudulent and false accounting. He denied all the charges.
The prosecution, again led by Okua, said Kavuma secured sh41.9m under a company called Lijac Promotional Services on behalf of the proprietor, Lillian Mary Nabunnya, without her knowledge.
Kavuma allegedly obtained the money in February 2005, claiming that he would organise sensitisation programmes on HIV/AIDS through the then Uganda Television, now UBC.
Okua further argues that Kavuma handed in false accountability for the money, claiming that it was from Kaku Media Links.
She further maintains that he abused his office by receiving money for personal gain while employed as a production manager.
Attempts by his lawyer, Bernard Ekemu, to secure bail failed when he was informed that he was indicted for abuse of office and would be tried by the Anti-Corruption Court, which is yet to be established as part of the High Court.
“Under the provision cited by the State, your bail application cannot stand but your lawyer can apply for bail in the High Court,” Sayekwo said.
Casually dressed, Kavuma looked nervous as the charges were read out to him in a fully packed court.