The World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) an international Environment conservation organizations has launched a huge Solar Rural Electrification Project in Kasese, Uganda. The Solar Electrification project is to benefit people in three districts thus Kasese, Masindi and Arua. The Solar Project will majorly be supervised by World Wide fund for Nature Uganda Country Office (UCO) with funding from European Union (EU) which has injected 5 Million EUROs which is 75% of the entire solar project cost.
The four year project builds on the positive results achieved from a mini solar grid project implemented in Kasese by WWF over the previous years since 2012 aimed at increasing access to clean and renewable electricity for communities that can’t access the hydroelectricity power.
The unlike the initial pilot Solar project run by WWF the new project the Rural Electrification Agency a government unit charged with distribution of electricity to remote areas will play a central role of providing technical support like erecting the Power grids and installation of mini Solar power Transformation points among others.
While commissioning the project WWF Uganda country director David Dduli revealed that the project kicked off in December 2015 though the real implementation had been delayed by some technical factors.
“I am glad to report to you that despite that small delay we are now on course and expect the best”.
He notes that the project aims at replacing kerosene lighting and provides greater access to Clean, cheap solar power for communities living in areas that are currently off the national grid.
“Most communities here use Kerosene in lanterns and candles as a source of light in their homes which is very harmful to their health due to the soot originating from the candles and its worse to the school children who seat close to the kerosene lamps as they are reading. By providing solar power we are saving a life and improving the health of many Ugandans” said Duli.
At least 17,157 households will benefit from the project, 20 mini-grids will be setup to benefit at least 200 small businesses like bars, restaurants and salons, milling machines and set-up up to 50 solar PV systems of 1,000W for social institutions, that is, 30 schools and 20 health centres according to WWF David Duli.
The 5 Megawatt solar projects has been launched at Margarita Hotel in kasese during a two days inception training for key stakeholders who are implementing the project. These comprise of Government, local Government leaders, the community representatives and Community Based Organisations.
WHY THREE DISTRICTS.
According to WWF Uganda country office executive director David Duli Kasese, Masindi and Arua are located in the Albertine rift towards the Uganda-DRC border were particularly chosen to beneficiaries of the project because of their geographical location in a region, and high biological sensitivity.
“Kasese for example is still predominantly rural, with 48% of the population living below the poverty line, and less than 10% of its rural population connected to the electricity grid. Most households, businesses and social institutions in the District use kerosene lamps for lighting and have challenges meeting their basic energy needs. It is because of these challenges that WWF has been present in the Albertine region for several years” says Duli.
He explains that the new solar project therefore aims to empower the rural communities in Kasese, Arua and Masindi to operate and maintain solar PV technologies for both domestic and commercial use.
“We think that through these project interventions, there will be improved local economic development and reduction in both health problems and greenhouse gas emissions that come as a result of kerosene use” he added.
What local leaders Say.
According to Kasese municipality mayor Kabyanga Godfrey says that this solar project is a long said prayer answered at an opportune time.
“I am happy that WWF you are now expanding on the existing solar project because our voters tasted the solar electricity and their appetite went high though all of them could not access form the same. We hope that through this big project all our people will have access to clean and renewable energy”
Speaking at the launch of the project Kasese district vice chairperson Muhindo Tadeo expressed excitement that Kasese continues to benefit from WWF projects adding that with the big solar project real positive change in people’s lives will be achieved.
“We welcome the project and I want to assure you that our people are waiting to enjoy the positive change that comes with this solar project. However want to urge you to closely work with the community, and their leaders as a way of promoting the spirit of involvement and ownership of the project” narrated Mr. Muhindo
Under this Project the schools shall contribute about 30% payment of the solar system costs while the households shall be expected to cover the full costs of the solar kits they acquire but paid in small instalments, over an agreed period of time while the Health centres shall enjoy exclusively free Solar power in this project.
Source of Project funding.
The total project budget is Euros 5,737,539.35. The European Union (EU) has provided 75% of the budget and 25% to be covered from co-financing. The sources of co-financing are the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) under government of Uganda, the benefiting households, schools and, the private sector. The selected Private sector players will also supply the solar mini-grid equipment.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Uganda is gifted by Nature and sore goes a verse in the National anthem….”By Sun and fertile soils grow”….. It is without doubt that Uganda has limitless provision of Solar Energy throughout the year. This according to scientists can provide solar power to every part of the country more cheaply that Hydro power which suffers from serious Geographical effects. This should be the time for Government, Private sector to switch and invest heavily in the Developing the untapped potential in Solar power in Uganda.
Do something to change climate change
By Joshua Mutale.