KASESE/RUBIRIZI — Six hybrid six hybrid solar-powered mini-grid systems worth 4.8 million Euros have been commissioned in Kasese and Rubirizi districts—with capacity to connect upto 1, 800 households and 200 businesses.
The stand alone min-grid solar plants were installed by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with funding from European Union, Government of Uganda through Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Other co-funders are Swedish International Agency (SIDA), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) and ProTecho.
The solar mini grids have the capacity to generate 170.625KW of electricity with Kasenyi generating 39KW, Kisebere – 19.5KW, Kihuramu – 19.5 KW, Kashaka – 29KW, Kazinga – 29KW, and Kisenyi – 34.12KW.
Speaking during the commissioning, Mr.
David Duli, the WWF Country Director said that the six solar powered mini grids will improve the rural livelihoods and reduce greenhouse emissions through widespread access to clean and renewable sources of energy.
By commissioning time, Duli said, the mini-grid project had already connected upto 791 households and 250 businesses in both districts.
Mr. Duli explained that the off-grid solar powered solution has the potential to enhance social economic transformation by speeding up the much sought after universal energy access in Uganda.
“Renewable energy access via solar has direct nexus with improvement in the state of the environment, education, health, women and youth,” Duli said,— appealing to energy ministry to prioritize off-grid solar connection and incorporate it into the national policy and planning.
Mr. Duli also urged government to increase budget allocations for off-grid and to decentralize energy solutions to meet electrification needs for Ugandans.
Mr. Benon Bena, the manager off-grid renewable energy at the government’s Rural Electrification Agency said that government provided money to acquire land for the five sites installation sites.
Kazinga site was offered for free by the local community.
Both the generation and distribution works have been leased to SageWood Limited to do the operation and maintenance.
Bena also said this project is part of the government’s rural electrification program to improve access to clean and safe energy.
The Minister of State for Minerals Peter Lokeris who presided over the launch noted that the ministry is considering Mini-grids mainly powered by renewable energy resources especially for remote places with potential for productive use of electricity such as trading centers and island communities as way of accelerating energy access.
According to the minister, renewable energy has the potential to enhance energy security and reliability; generate income and create employment; enable substantial foreign exchange savings by reducing dependence on imported fuels and its attendant price volatility, and mitigate climate change as it has minimal adverse effects on the environment.
Lokeris urged the beneficiary communities to connect to these solar mini grids and use the generated power for productive work and business.
The minister called upon the technical teams to sensitize and train the beneficiaries in operating and maintaining the installed systems. He asked the communities to jealously safe guard the installations to curb the threat of vandalism
Julius Asiimwe, Kasenyi LC1 Chairperson attributed the business boom at the landing site to improved services and security in the area to the recently connected electricity.
He also said electricity will reduce pressure on Queen Elizabeth National Park since potential poachers will be able to venture into other activities like saloons, welding and other activities.
For example, a one Robert Kirungi who owns a petro station in Kasenyi was able to upgrade his station shifting from manual operation which enabled him cut the costs of operation.
Jesus Gavilan Marin, the Energy Programme Officer at the EU Delegation in Uganda told this website at the sidelines that the project is part of their commitment in the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow towards eliminating and combating climate change challenges, global warming, and its negative impacts.
He added that the EU is committed to supporting Uganda in innovations meant to mitigate climate change.
Kasese District LCV chairman Eliphaz Muhindo, asked government and other development partners to expand this project to other communities and institutions in hard-to-reach areas that are out of the main power supply in the district.
Joel Masereka, the Buhahura HC III in charge said the connection has improved health service provision at the facility.
He says their laboratory and immunization services and general environment have since improved.