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Uganda's energy remains intact

Uganda’s energy remains intact

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His life has changed for the better. When darkness comes to Denis Baru, a resident of Zoka village in Adjumani district in northern Uganda, he turns to the power of the sun trapped by the solar panel during.

He has also conquered boredom as the solar also powers his television set. “I do not curse when the night comes,” he said, adding that the light helps his children to do homework and that their performance has tremendously improved. The solar is also keeping away respiratory diseases and helping the family to save money.“The cough that kept disturbing us because of pollution from the wick lamps has also become history.”

His neighbours have also noticed the power of the sun and they have embraced the technology. They say Baru has blown away the mindset that solar power was the energy for the future. Robert Ddamulira, the Africa energy Coordinator at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says the cost of solar energy equipment has dropped by about 80% globally within the last four decades. “The solar equipment in the coming years is going to become even cheaper because of innovations,” he says, adding that the solar equipment was also becoming more efficient than it has been previously. 

He also points out that the contribution of solar energy could even become significant with a guarantee from the Government to different private sector players that they would buy the power they produced and channel it to the national grid. He says the government of South Africa has made huge strides without investing any money and that this provides lessons for Uganda. “What can Uganda do? What can we learn from that?” Ddamulira asks. “We still have taxes on batteries and this is pushing up the cost of the batteries. Not many people can afford.”

So far, Uganda has waived taxes on solar panels and this should also be extended to the solar batteries. “Solar will change people lives,” he says.It is also believed that the birth rate in Uganda is shooting through the roof because many people retire to bed early.“If we chase darkness, people will engage in production,” says Baru, adding that in places like Yumbe town, where solar power street lighting was introduced about five years ago, small scale business enterprises have grown.

Hydro-electric power

Uganda has a potential of 3,000MW along the big rivers, such as the Nile, but most of the sites remain untapped.The installed power generation capacity is up to 873.7MW – mainly by hydro. Access to electricity is one of the lowest in Africa–national at 20% and rural at 7%. Per capital electricity consumption is low at 100 kWh p.a. (Kenya at 155 kWh, Ghana at 300 kWh, South Africa at 4,694 kWh).Development of the large hydropower plants – Karuma Hydroelectric Project (600MW) and Isimba HEP 183MW are under construction – Ayago 840 MW, Kiba 290 MW and Orianga 400 MW are to be developed in the medium term.
Chimpanzees in Kasongoire forest in Masindi district are facing revenge attacks from residents, for destroying their garden .The residents often face food insecurity and lose income due to the destructive activities of the chimps.“As chimps eat crops, some residents become desperate because they do not have alternative means of survival and, out of anger, they attack the chimps,” Dr Panta Kasoma, the director of Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda, says.Such attacks have led to fatalities, according to a statement released by Uganda Biodiversity Fund.

“There have been recorded deaths and maiming of both chimps and humans in this conflict.” This situation is set to change with the funding of $100m (sh360b) from the Uganda Biodiversity Fund, which has funded a consortium of three nongovernmental organisations, namely Jane Goodall Institute, Chimpanzee Trust and Eco-Trust, to undertake initiatives that will teach people to tolerate chimps. Kasoma made the announcement recently at Nyonyi Gardens in Kololo, Kampala during the launch of the first project to benefit from the fund. The trust fund pools resources from local and international donors.

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