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Solar energy takes business to Kole

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th August 2015 12:22 PM

Solar energy is helping businesspeople earn more in Bala Trading Centre in the northern Ugandan district of Kole.

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Solar energy is helping businesspeople earn more in Bala Trading Centre in the northern Ugandan district of Kole.


By Christopher Bendana

Solar energy is helping businesspeople earn more in Bala Trading Centre in the northern Ugandan district of Kole.

The town council, located 15km from Lira, is off the national grid. Many business people dealing in welding, salons and restaurants use generators for power.

Tonny Okello, a barber shop owner in Bala Trading Centre, adopted solar energy after realizing that he was spending all his shop incomes to buy petrol for the generator.       

He says he used to spend an average of sh12,000 daily on petrol to run the generator before he went solar.

“I used to earn between sh20,000 and sh25,000 from the salon and another sh10,000 from charging [phones], but I was not saving. I would only buy fuel and pay barbers,” he says.

To limit his expenditure, he bought a solar system in 2013. The solar panel cost him sh830,000, he bought the battery at sh450,000 and an inverter at sh75,000.

He says this has helped him save an average of sh10,000 daily despite the reduction in the number of clients from an average 25 in the early 2000s to the current 20.

The client base has reduced because of the increase in the number of barber shops in the area. A haircut costs sh1,000.

No expense
 


Geoffrey Olwa uses solar power to charge phones for a fee. (Credit: Christopher Bendana)


Geoffrey Olwa is another businessman that has adopted solar energy at the trading centre. A radio and phone repairman, his former source of energy was a battery.

He says that working from battery was expensive and cumbersome. To begin with, he had brought it at sh290,000, but it required charging after two days. He says this was expensive for him as it required him to hire a boda boda to transport it for charging 6km away.

The solar option is a savior. He brought his in 2012. It has 125 watts and two panels brought at sh200, 000 each and a battery at sh 290,000.

“It’s good. I don’t have any expense,” he says. Olwa also charges an average of 40 phones at a charging cost of sh400 per phone.

Jonathan Odur, a barber at Okello’s salon, says their only challenge is rain which limits the ability of the system to trap sunlight.
 

Solar energy takes business to Kole

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