In 2014, Uganda’s grid electrification rate was 20% on the national level and 10% in rural areas. The majority of the people in rural areas strongly rely on lighting tools like candles and kerosene lamps that give poor quality lighting, emit noxious fumes and present a hazard in terms of fires or burns, especially to children. A general lack of access to electricity has also hindered the establishment of businesses, job creation, and access to information and communication.
In spite of many alternative energy resources available in Uganda, for example biogas, solar and micro hydro power, there is a heavy dependence on biomass energy, especially for cooking, due to its accessibility and affordability. Biomass provides for 90% of the total primary energy consumption, in form of firewood, charcoal or crop residues. This dependence on biomass contributes to an increasing forest degradation, leading to fuel scarcity and rising fuel prices.
As part of the global energy partnership Energising Development (EnDev), funded by six donor countries, EnDev Uganda works to facilitate access to clean energy by 2018.
EnDev Uganda is therefore working to make the following contribution to EnDev’s global targets:
EnDev Uganda promotes clean energy for cooking as well as modern energy for lighting and electric household appliances.
Two market-based strategies are followed. In the first one, the rural partner synergy approach, EnDev partners with organisations that are interested in promoting improved cook stoves and have established structures in rural areas. Together, EnDev and the partners train rural commercial Energy Service Providers (ESPs) to build high-quality, standardised mud stoves. EnDev provides technical expertise (concept development, certified trainers, stove manuals, moulds) to ensure quality control and supports in stove marketing. The partner organisations take care of logistics, selection of trainees and assist with management and monitoring. The partner organisations’ networks offer the ESPs a large base of potential customers. In the second strategy, the private sector development approach, EnDev supports Ugandan stove companies. Support is provided according to the individual company needs, e.g. upgrading production infrastructure, increasing stove quality, setting up new distribution structures and strengthening business skills.
In order to be eligible for EnDev’s support, companies have to comply with the performance parameters of the Ugandan quality stove brand Good Stove – Better Cooking (launched in 2014 by MEMD and EnDev).
Ugandan solar equipment importers, distributors and installation companies dedicated to high-quality products are supported in the distribution of SHS and picoPV for households, social institutions and SMEs. The approach is fully market-based, focusing on implementing innovative financing and distribution schemes and training the companies’ staff in marketing and customer service. While smaller picoPV systems are promoted as entry point for end-users to get acquainted with solar technology, access to larger SHS that suit each household’s demand considerably improves their quality of life.
Since 2008, a number of grid densification projects have been implemented including two community-based projects in Northern Uganda. EnDev cooperates closely with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which covers costs of survey, procurement of contractor and infrastructure. EnDev’s current focus is on targeting no-pole connections: households in communities that are close enough to be connected to the national grid but who have failed to connect completely relying on their own means for more than a year are supported in the process of connecting to the national grid.
EnDev also implemented two MHP projects in Bwindi (64 kW) and Suam (40 kW). After final adjustments and management changes to ensure sustainability, the Bwindi project as well as the Suam project were handed over to REA in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
The stove market development is well on the way as the number of stoves sold and households reached is continuously rising. More than 500 rural stove artisans have been trained last year due to several new partnerships with other development programmes. EnDev’s monitoring showed that stove artisans were able to produce and sell higher numbers of stoves and to increase their income due to efficient group production induced through these partnerships. Thereby, access to improved cook stoves has significantly increased for the bottom of the pyramid in target areas.
In addition, through EnDev’s continuous efforts in the private stove sector, several stove companies were able to increase product quality, production capacity and stove sales. EnDev also supports them in establishing decentralised stove hubs that offer safe storage for a high number of stoves, serve as sales points and allow for the affordable distribution of stoves to smaller sales points in the area. Thereby, the distribution of improved cook stoves expanded beyond the large commercial centres to the peri-urban areas. Further, through EnDev’s support in promotion activities, awareness and demand for ICS is increasing among the population.
The promotion of solar market development is progressing well. In order to overcome the lack of financing options for solar systems, EnDev supports solar companies in the implementation of end-user financing schemes (i.e. Mobile Money enabled Pay-As-You-Go SHS and end-user loans from third party financing institutions). Additionally, EnDev focuses on expanding the distribution structures for solar products by setting up rural outlets and sales agent networks coupled with marketing support. In this context, rural end-users benefit from increased access to good quality solar systems in rural communities, timely and cost-efficient after-sales services, and customer sensitization on the benefits of the solar systems.
In grid densification, EnDev successfully implemented the no-pole connection approach. Besides businesses and social institutions, 800 bottom-of-the-pyramid households were supported to connect to the national grid through community facilitation, end-user training, technical support for the application process, and financial support.
Through the MHP projects, more than 200 SMEs and households as well as a tourist lodge were provided with electricity, which is creating regional income opportunities. A local hospital, serving more than 40,000 patients a year, also benefits from the Bwindi scheme.
© Photo of laughing woman sitting at sewing machine with a solar light, courtesy of Greenlightplanet.com