Why Ugandans must demand more investment in off-grid solar energy
By Angella Tusiime
I recently read an article in a local daily which noted that water levels on River Mubuku in Kasese district had drastically gone down thereby reducing electricity production on the Bugoye hydro-power to 4MW, instead of 14MW, which the plant was designed to produce. The fall in water levels was among others attributed to global warming.
While I commend the Government for its efforts in opening up several hydro-power plants across the country to provide electricity to communities, experience has shown that water bodies are vulnerable to effects of climate change, including the long dry spells that see water levels drastically reduce and in turn affect the generation capacity of the dams.
Not only does the reduced electricity generation result in revenue losses for the Government depending on the power purchase agreements signed with the generation company, but this reduction also compromises the Government’s efforts in extending clean energy to rural communities across the country.
And this is where the need for more government investments in off-grid solar energy comes in. With the devastating effects of climate change already being experienced across the world, countries have come to appreciate that interventions such as afforestation and use of clean and renewable energy such as solar will play a vital role in restoring ecosystems that have been destroyed by global warming.
Important to note is that with off-grid solar energy options, rural communities, especially the poor and vulnerable do not have to worry about the high electricity tariffs, monthly bills that have to be paid, fake Yaka metres, constant power outages and inefficiencies of power distribution agencies.
Furthermore, investment in off-grid solar energy will help free up time for especially women to participate in community development meetings and for the youth to start up small-scale business.
With Uganda aiming to provide clean, reliable modern energy options for all by 2030 according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean energy, all Ugandans must be mobilised to demand for Government’s increased investment in off-grid solar energy options. This will see the lowering and or scrapping of taxes on solar power consumption equipment and use of standard solar power consumption equipment, among others.
The writer is the project assistant at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)