Uganda: Renewable Energy to Deepen Rural Penetration
15 December 2010
COMMUNITIES are increasingly getting more attracted into using solar as an
alternative source of energy.
Joseph Mukasa is a fisherman operating on Kiyindi landing site. He has
benefited from using solar power for mobile phone charging and lighting
for the last one year.
"Charging a mobile phone on this landing site used to cost me between
sh1,000 and sh1,500 every two days. The 5watt Firefly Power pack I bought
at sh250,000 in November last year enables me charge my phone while
fishing, at the same time light system I use on the lake at night plus
those that light my home," he says.
There are also other renewable energy sources like wind, rain , tides and
geothermal heat that can be naturally replenished.
Willian Bullu has dealt in selling electronics for seven years and owns a
shop in Seeta, in Mukono district.
He says the increasing costs of hydro electric power makes the solar power
shift from being considered a reserve for the only rural population.
According to State Minister for Energy, Simon D'ujanga, Uganda needs more
innovative private investors into renewable energy.
Boldewijn Sloet, General manager of Base Technologies says that the
problems associate with lack of affordable hydro power and the money spent
on Kerosene calls for more advanced technology to create electricity from
natural renewable sources.
According to company research, an average Ugandan spends between sh5,000
to sh10,000 on kerosene for lighting per month. He said that investing
this money in a solar lamp would be more economical as it pays itself back
in 4-5 months. In addition, the lamps decrease on the health and fire
The recent report by the International Finance Cooperation of the World
Bank indicates that over $17b is spent annually for buying kerosene in
Africa , whereas $38b is by the two billion people without access to
electricity world over.
Finca, a local microfinance institution conducted a survey of 56 of its
micro-energy clients and found that 98% would recommend switching to solar
while 57% solar users had improved respiratory health and 50% had improved
The survey indicated that lighting also allowed children to study at night
and 84% of clients highlighted this as a benefit of the system. 91% of
clients said they saved on kerosene costs while 82% saved on phone
Sloet calls for quality controls and enforcement of standards to keep the
market from being flooded by fake products.
The additional challenge is that controlling bodies have not defined clear
and transparent quality standards and measuring methods.
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