Challenges and Issues Affecting the Exploitation of Renewable Energies in Uganda

From energypedia



More than 85% of Uganda's population lives in rural areas. Almost all of them depend on biomass (wood and crop residues) for cooking and heating often using inefficient methods and appliances. Even in urban areas, a vast majority of the population use charcoal for cooking. Electricity is available only to 9% of the total population and 3% in the rural areas. The greatest challenge is the unsustainable exploitation of biomass resource mainly due to:

  • Use of inefficient cooking methods and appliances.
  • High cost and sometimes scarcity of alternative cooking fuels such as kerosene and LPG.
  • High cost of electricity which is only available to a small percentage of the population.
  • The increasing population which is putting pressure on available arable land is forcing communities and households to reserve most of the land for food crop growing and neglecting tree planting.
  • Inadequate government policy to encourage energy tree farming.

-> See also Uganda energy situation


Since 2003, the entire East African region has been faced with a drought situation that has reduced the level of the Lake Victoria and the flow of River Nile sharply. This in turn has reduced the available electricity generation capacity of the existing power stations. This has caused doubt to the reliance of hydropower as the main source of electricity supply.
Due to the power sector reforms undertaken over the last 2 decades, the country has been facing challenges and constraints in accessing funding for hydropower projects from public sector funds and multi-national development agencies. This has forced the Government to rely on independent power producers (IPP) to develop hydropower projects.
Unfortunately, the IPP model has not been successful in the development of hydropower resources and is associated with a number of issues which include:

  • Protracted negotiations as all parties involved try to hedge against the risks involved in these projects.
  • Private capital for long term investment is very expensive hence the private investors seek very high returns leading to high consumer tariffs.
  • Excessive demands of the private sector like sovereign guarantees from government force government to bear most of the risks.
  • International Anti-Dam lobby groups have been lobbying for the halt of the construction of large and medium sized hydro power station including Bujagali citing negative environmental impact. The negative publicity delays implementation and increases the cost of the project.

-> See also Uganda energy situation

Solar Energy

The potential for solar energy utilisation in Uganda is enormous given that the country has a good solar insolation throughout the year and only 3% of the rural population is connected to the grid. However, its exploitation faces a number of challenges which include;

  • Low levels of affordability in rural areas; especially due to the high upfront cost associated with cash purchases. Credit facilities are limited and hire-purchase arrangements are not well developed.
  • Lack of rural distribution of after sales services centers with appropriate capacity increases transaction costs and leads to frequent system malfunction which gives solar PV a bad reputation.
  • Limited capacity of the private sector to procure solar PV systems in large quantities thus taking advantage of the economies of scale to bring down the cost of solar systems.
  • Although the population is aware of the existence of solar PV, they do not have sufficient information regarding the benefit and limitations of solar PV and where to source the equipment to enable them make an informed decision to purchase solar PV systems.
  • In recent years, cases of theft of PV modules have been on the increase. This has scared off some potential customers, while causing loss of investment for others.

-> See also Uganda energy situation

Wind Energy

  • The lack of a comprehensive wind map for the county. The available wind data is insufficient to determine the potential of wind for energy production. The data consists of average wind speeds and direction measured less than 2m above the ground at a number of meteorological stations. There is no continuous wind data collection on daily, seasonal or annual variation of wind speed and direction.
  • There is limited Government investment in wind resource assessment. Need for better wind speed monitoring data (speed distribution and direction).
  • Inadequate policy to support small scale wind energy projects. There are not preferential feed-in tariffs to the national grid for windgenerated electricity.

-> See also Uganda energy situation


  • GTZ (2007): Eastern Africa Resource Base: GTZ Online Regional Energy Resource Base: Regional and Country Specific Energy Resource Database: II - Energy Resource.