By David Ssempijja
THE Government rural electrification strategies have brought a ray of hope to the people of Moyo with the introduction of pico hydro-power technology in the area.
Pico hydro-power is the weakest and smallest electricity plant, which generates about 500 watts.
However, it is the most cost-effective, especially in transforming rural communities because it is cheaper to set up and power supply is constant.
The power is generated by diverting water from a river or stream into a penstock (constructed channel) through which regulated water flows to run the turbines in power house, hence generating electricity.
The introduction of this technology is one of the interventions by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fÃ¼r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the access to modern energy in northern Uganda (PAMENU) project.
The project is funded by the European Union and the Germany Federation ministry for economic co-operation and development.
About 72 households in Gwere village, Metu sub-county in Moyo district can now enjoy electricity. The majority of them had hitherto been using lanterns and candles.
â€œThis is an opportunity none of us had ever dreamt of. Our community is very poor and far away from West Nile, which has thermal power. Even if we had access to the same, we wouldnâ€™t afford the cost. Therefore, this project is the best alternatives for us,â€ said Dracho Cyril, one of the beneficiaries.
Other similar projects are going on in Menya, Fofo and Okapi sub-counties in Moyo and Arua districts, plus others in Mount Elgon area and Bwindi, according to Joseline Namara, the GIZ project co-ordinator.
Currently, operating in West Nile and Lango regions, the PAMENU project was initiated by GIZ-Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programme to eradicate household poverty, uplift social institutions and boost small-and-medium enterprises.
Under the pico hydro-power project, residents provide building materials and GIZ contributes technical services, turbines and other necessary equipment.
According to Paul Kisembo, the GIZ technical engineer, pico hydro-power generation is expensive for communities.
For example, a facility that can serve 70 to 100 households could cost about sh14m because some of the parts like turbines are imported from Vietnam.
â€œHowever, the technology used to make these parts is easy. We want to engage the Uganda Industrial Research Institute and the Nakawa Vocational Training Institute to have the parts made locally to make the cheaper.â€
He added that GIZ is providing technical support to the local people to enable them assemble and maintain the power generation parts for themselves.
The Pico hydro-technology has just been embraced in Kenya, but is popular in Vietnam where it has existed for decades.