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World Bank did not halt distribution of free bulbs

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th January 2009 03:00 AM

This is in response to two stories in The New Vision, that claimed the World Bank had halted the distribution of free energy-saving bulbs in Uganda.
We wish to clarify that the World Bank has neither halted, nor claimed to have halted the distributio

This is in response to two stories in The New Vision, that claimed the World Bank had halted the distribution of free energy-saving bulbs in Uganda.
We wish to clarify that the World Bank has neither halted, nor claimed to have halted the distributio

By Steven Shalita

This is in response to two stories in The New Vision, that claimed the World Bank had halted the distribution of free energy-saving bulbs in Uganda.
We wish to clarify that the World Bank has neither halted, nor claimed to have halted the distribution of free energy-saving bulbs in Uganda as reported by Ibrahim Kasita and Sseezi-Cheeye.

This claim was first made by your reporter Ibrahim Kasita, in an article titled “World Bank halts distribution of free energy-saving bulbs,” published on December 31, 2008. Kasita had attended a press conference on the outcome of the Inspection Panel Investigation on the Bujagali Hydropower Project at the World Bank offices. The press conference was followed by a brief on Uganda’s support to the Energy Sector, by Malcolm Cosgrove-Davies.

Kasita claims in his article that, “The World Bank has halted distribution of the remaining 240,000 energy-saving bulbs worth sh1.2b, raising concern over its development policies towards poor countries like Uganda.”

The second article, riding on the first one, was by Teddy Sseezi-Cheeye on January 14, 2009 titled, “World Bank’s economics of bulb distribution”. Sseezi-Cheeye, claims the World Bank “has directed that the remaining 240,000 bulbs should not be distributed until those distributed blow out.” This is premised on the information provided by Kasita’s article.

The free energy-saving bulbs were introduced by the Government, with World Bank assistance, in early 2007 as one of its short term measures to reduce the shortfall in power supply, while at the same time ensuring long-term sustainability of energy efficiency measures.

Using funds from the World Bank, the Government procured 800,000 energy-saving bulbs for distribution to power consumers. From January 2007 to January 2008, about 598,000 free bulbs were distributed. This initiative freed up approximately 20 to 25 megawatts of electricity during peak hours, resulting in reduced blackouts and substantial savings of funds by the Government.

The programme also created energy-saving awareness among consumers.
The articles by Kasita and Sseezi-Cheeye claim that the balance of bulbs that have not been distributed “will remain in the Lugogo stores until the old bulbs blow out and they replace them.”

This is not true. The supplier, as part of their contract, gave a percentage of bulbs over and above the 800,000 to cater for replacements. So far, only about 500 bulbs have been found faulty and replaced accordingly.

The balance of the bulbs are still going to be distributed according to the strategy adopted in 2006, which provides for at least 200,000 of the procured energy-saving bulbs to be sold through the private sector, as a way to prime the market for sustainability purposes. Currently, the Government, the World Bank and other stakeholders are having discussions on the best way to distribute the remaining 200,000 bulbs.

The public must understand that this is the Government’s initiative that is implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development with funding from the World Bank, under the Energy for Rural Transformation Project. There is nothing confidential about this project, as Sseezi-Cheeye would like to have it, and information related to it is available on the World Bank website and in our public information centre.

The World Bank is committed to ensuring transparency about its activities as exemplified in its Disclosure Policy. In March 2008, the World Bank board of executive directors further revised the Disclosure Policy to include board minutes and board documentation related to project modifications.

Sseezi-Cheeye is, therefore, misinformed about how the Bank operates, and needs to be advised about our commitment to transparency in our operations.

The writer is a senior communications specialist at The World Bank

World Bank did not halt distribution of free bulbs

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