KAMPALA – The adoption of green energy to power businesses in rural areas is gaining acceptance as business owners opt for solar gadgets such as refrigerators, Television sets, and lighting, as a solution to frequent power outages or even lack of connection to the national grid.
A survey carried out by Village Energy through the Global LEAP Awards Refrigeration Challenge on 36 off-grid SMEs that received solar refrigerators in 2018 in 5 districts, found that the average daily revenue from drinks increased from twelve dollars per day (Ugx45,000) to twenty-nine dollars (Ugx108,000) per day.
While the average total daily income increased from 39 dollars(Ugx146,000) per day to 70 dollars (Ugx262,000) a day, 50% reported expanding into a new business line and all respondents reported an increase in customers and sales, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
A follow-up survey conducted in 2020 by Energy4Impact on the impact of the 2018 distribution indicated that 30 of 36 respondents (83%) still possessed the fridges they had gotten, whereas 89% were unable to easily find a good alternative to the solar fridge. 86% were likely to recommend the fridge to a friend, having assigned a mark between 8-10 out of 10.
The survey further revealed that 83% of the respondents noticed growth in their business in the previous 2 years because of the fridges and 27% were able to purchase a new solar system or appliance because of the additional income and awareness
The overall sentiment depicted gratitude and satisfaction. Many respondents were able to do things such as buying land, saving money for future plans, buying clothes for their children, starting projects like piggery and basically improving their standard of living.
According to Waringa Matindi, the Chief Executive Officer of Village Energy, Solar Energy refrigerators are continuously improving livelihoods and boosting incomes by enhancing productivity, expanding working hours, and increasing products/services, as well as cutting energy costs and eliminating business losses that are energy-related.
Matindi notes that although affordability is a key barrier to adoption, innovative models can be leveraged to increase access to existing solar solutions.
She says “The partnership between Equity Bank and Village Energy can be useful to provide access for SMEs. Equity’s Eco loan will increase available financing to consumers and Village Energy’s remote monitoring, a 2-year system warranty will ensure the solar fridges are working efficiently and the system challenges are handled quickly and efficiently,”
Solar fridges are ideal for businesses, farms, offices, homes, among other establishments.
Village Energy’s Fridge system is inclusive of panels, batteries, a charge controller, remote monitoring, and a year’s warranty.
Recently, President Yoweri Museveni called for more investment in Solar Energy. The President emphasized the need for the population to focus on boosting production and improving agriculture.
Across Uganda, Solar fridges are being adopted by small and medium enterprises such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and guesthouses to store and sell cold drinks, dairy products, and other perishable goods.
Refrigeration is part of several supply chains including but not limited to; dairy, livestock vaccination, storing fish post-catch, and storing produce to reduce post-harvest crop loss.
Educational institutions need refrigeration for their kitchens so they can store food for student/teacher meals.
Since 2015, Village Energy has been at the helm of helping businesses grow by offering affordable solar solutions.