By Jeff Lule
Uganda has launched the Energy and Environment Partnership program with Southern and East Africa (EEP-S&EA) in collaboration with the government of Finland to boost the renewable energy sector in the country.
The programme is aimed at increasing access to sustainable energy services derived from renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, wind, bio-fuels and geothermal energy among others.
The project will also help in protecting the environment especially in curbing deforestation through improvising other sources of energy especially in rural areas.
Speaking at the launch of the program in Kampala, the Ugandan Ambassador to Finland, Richard Mugera said the program has been established to achieve more efficient use of renewable energy sources abundant in the country.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (lead donor), Austrian Development Agency (ADA), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Other countries already benefiting from the project include South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.
The EEP country director and senior energy officer in the ministry for energy, Michael Ahimbisibwe said many forests have been destroyed in search for fire wood thus affecting the environment.
He said many sources can be utilized to develop alternative energy without tampering with the environment.
Ahimbisibwe also said very few Ugandans access electricity, saying that developing renewable sources and technologies was inevitable in boosting the economy and fighting poverty.
He said government has already put in place a Renewable Energy Policy and are also working on an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill to support the sector.
The coordinator of the program and counselor on natural recourses and energy in Finland, Anne Tarvainen said the programme aims at addressing challenges of energy poverty, energy security and energy related global and local environment impacts in an integrated way and from a regional perspective.
The regional coordinator of the programme, Yaw Afrane Okese said the government of Finland and other partners already injected about 24 million Euros (about sh72b) in the first phase which ends in December 2012.
"Ugandans can still apply for the remaing fund in the remaining time frame. We still have nine million Euros (about sh26b) as part of our funding. We urge people and organizations to start submitting their project proposals before the end of 2012," he noted.
Okese said the next phase is going to run from 2013 and 2015.