Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2004 (Revised April 2005)

International Rivers Network and the Bujagali Dam Project (A)

by Benjamin C. Esty and Aldo Sesia

Abstract

In the summer of 2002, the International Rivers Network (IRN), an environmental NGO located in Berkeley, California, was engaged in what appeared to be the last hours of a three year campaign to stop a $582 million dam and hydropower project at Bujagali Falls in Uganda. The final piece of the financing puzzle was about to be put in place as the World Bank was set to approve a $250 million loan guarantee for the project. Although the project would have some adverse environmental and social impacts, IRN contended that the power deal between the government of Uganda and AES was the real problem. As IRN saw it, the cost of the project was too high and Ugandans would bear most of the risk, which would add to the country's debt burden. However, without the power purchase agreement, which remained undisclosed despite requests for it to be made public, IRN had little economic data on the project to bolster its argument. Still, there were compelling reasons, such as economic development and poverty alleviation, for the Ugandan government to go ahead with the deal it had with AES, the project sponsor. AES, with its social mission and reputation for delivering low-cost energy to the world, seemed like the ideal sponsor.

Keywords: Ethics; Corporate Disclosure; Project Finance; Investment; Environmental Sustainability; Projects; Developing Countries and Economies; Energy Industry; Uganda;

Citation:

Esty, Benjamin C., and Aldo Sesia. "International Rivers Network and the Bujagali Dam Project (A)." Harvard Business School Case 204-083, March 2004. (Revised April 2005.)