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Energy App eases access to electricity

By Stella Naigino

Added 6th November 2019 04:47 PM

The state minister for energy, Eng Simon D’ujang, said the app named The Energy Access Explorer is a web platform that leverages the power of satellite imaginary combined with 20 local data sets to visualize energy supply and demand in East Africa.

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The launch of the explorer by delegates from East African countries (Photo by Stella Naigino)

The state minister for energy, Eng Simon D’ujang, said the app named The Energy Access Explorer is a web platform that leverages the power of satellite imaginary combined with 20 local data sets to visualize energy supply and demand in East Africa.

After struggling to expand electricity infrastructure for long, the energy ministry has now acquired an app, that will help it to identify areas in need and advise on the suitable energy source to install.

The state minister for energy, Eng Simon D’ujang, said the app named The Energy Access Explorer is a web platform that leverages the power of satellite imaginary combined with 20 local data sets to visualize energy supply and demand in East Africa.

D’ujang said the app will help electricity planners, investors and clean energy entrepreneurs with information that they need, to deal with electricity access gaps. The app, he said, will identify the suitable power for an area, whether it is hydroelectricity or renewable energy.

D’ujang was presiding over the launch of the energy access explorer app, at Hotel Africana in Kampala, at a function attended by delegates from the East African countries. The app has already been successfully used in Tanzania. After Uganda, it will be launched in Kenya.

Statistics indicate that less than 25% of the Ugandan population, most of whom live in rural areas, have access to power. Yet, energy is almost a key driver of socio-economic development and transformation across all sectors since it facilitates the production of goods and services.

Rashid Abdallah, the executive director of the Algerian-based Africa Energy Commission, says without electricity a lot of economic and other activities cannot be carried out which impacts development.

He said the government officials, together with energy planners can use the energy access explorer to assess affordable power/energy.

“They can identify areas where electrification and socio-economic development can be linked to meet the needs of the poor people, as well as empower the rich with suitable services,” he explains.

Abdallah added that clean energy entrepreneurs can also use the app to identify opportunities, especially when expanding their markets by visualizing areas where customers are located, where demand for electricity is high have the country’s current data on energy resource availability including wind, solar and hydropower, as well as where the different power plants are, infrastructure data and data on demographics.

He added that investors can also make use of the explorer app to find out where funding for electrification efforts can be most impactful by understanding where demand is high, but access is low.

However, Abdallah warned that before using the app, one should also know the state of the country’s social services.

Global statistics show that 82 million people in east African countries lack reliable electricity.

Tanzania Experience

Maneno Katyega, the senior advisor for energy and executive director of Tanzania Traditional Energy Development, said the technology has been used in Tanzania to locate various energy deliveries in the country.

Ranya Sherif, who led a team at the United Nations Higher Council for Refugees in Uganda said refugee camps could benefit a lot.

She said the country hosts about 1.3million refugees and 97% of them rely on wood fuel to run their day to day activities.

Only 40% have access to improved cooking stoves and 31% have access to pumped water, which is done through renewable energy. Also 30% of their health facilities are not connected to power,” she said.

Sherif believes that with use of the energy access explorer, such people would benefit from the good things that come with being connected to power.

Data collection

Sitra Mulepo, a senior engineer Uganda’s health ministry, said East Africa lacks energy data collection centers. Even when the data is collected, it is not structured in a meaningful way. This, he said, could be an impediment to the use of the app.

Joel Jombwe, a senior technician in the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited, said there is inadequate technical expertise in the use of the app, which might also hinder its efficiency. He advised East Africa to train energy executives in the technology and added that the lack of the necessary infrastructure to support the technology might also hinder the performance of the app.

 

 

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