Harnessing Renewable Energy Distribution in Rural Uganda: A Case Study of Ntungamo District

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The innocent words of a six year old girl continue echoing in my ears …… Bye, bye, Otulereterayo AMASANYALAZZE okuva e Kampala; in simple translation: (Good bye, please bring for us ELECTRICITY when you return from Kampala!) It should not be wondered why majority of youth have migrated from the village to the capital city, in search of electricity and greener pastures. It is believed that all dreams are realized once the soils of Uganda’s capital, Kampala are touched.

Agriculture continues to dominate Uganda’s economy providing over 80% of employment as well food security. The study area is located in South Western Uganda with potential solar and bioenergy resources. The economic activities include and cattle keeping, growing of coffee, bananas and staple food. Efforts to add value to agricultural products are challenged by lack of energy provision for processing and information access. Lack of sufficient distribution of energy in the rural areas is a hindrance to development and advancement in Uganda’s economy.

Approximately 450,000 (1.3%) Ugandans are connected to the national grid; there is great potential for the growth of renewable energy. However, less than 5% of Uganda’s households have adopted the system due to the high costs of installation ranging between €1000 and €2000 euros, hence up-front payment costs and unreliable equipment. Efforts of the 10 year government- private-led initiative launched as Energy for Rural Transformation (ERT) program, with an aim of increasing rural energy accessibility to 10% by end 2012, were never achieved. The formula for Lighting Africa (a World Bank initiative which seeks improve access to clean, affordable lighting in Africa) assumes that each household consists of a minimum of five people. This means that approximately 6.8 million households contribute to the 34 million of Uganda’s population.

Harnessing Renewable Energy is the answer to aid in the processing of agricultural products, thus adding value and providing electricity to improve rural livelihoods. Children are expected to enjoy bright evening meals, improve access to information and education to cope with the National Education Curriculum. Women’s work-loads in the rural setting are expected to reduce by 40% rendering extra hours of rest, narrowing the gender inequality gap as well as poverty. Currently, over 5.4million households dwell in the rural Uganda, hence, focus for renewable energy should be at household level other than the institutional level which is the case in the subsidies program. Innovation of reliable and affordable Solar and Biogas Kits would greatly fasten energy distribution hence access to the most remote areas. It is a necessity and a right to emancipate end-users to embrace and access the power of the sun and bioenergy for environmental sustainability.

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