By Sierra Ruth Arinaitwe
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has commissioned six solar mini grids in Kasese and Rubirizi districts to increase the share of renewable energy in Uganda’s energy mix.
The commissioned solar mini grids currently connecting 960 customers in the two districts have the capacity to generate 170.625KW of electricity with Kasenyi generating 39KW, Kisebere – 19.5KW, Kihuramu – 19.5 KW, Kashaka – 29KW, Kazinga – 29KW, and Kisenyi – 34.12KW.
The mini grids were commissioned by the Minister of State for Minerals Hon Peter Lokeris in Kasenyi in the presence of a representative from the European Union which funded the project, WWF team the implementers, representatives from the Energy Ministry, Rural Electrification Programme, Electricity Regulatory Authority and community members.
While giving his remarks, Hon Lokeris noted that the ministry is considering Mini-grids mainly powered by renewable energy resources especially for remote places with potential for productive use of electricity such as trading centers and island communities as way of accelerating energy access.
According to the minister, renewable energy has the potential to enhance energy security and reliability; generate income and create employment; enable substantial foreign exchange savings by reducing dependence on imported fuels and its attendant price volatility, and mitigate climate change as it has minimal adverse effects on the environment.
The WWF Uganda country director David Duli said that as implementers of the project, they ensured that even the isolated schools, health units and homes that are not connected to these six solar Mini grids also obtained standalone solar systems for lighting and powering of low power consuming equipment. He noted that with solar generated electricity, rural communities now have the ability to transform their livelihoods and promote economic development.
Hon Lokeris urged the beneficiary communities to connect to these solar mini grids and use the generated power for productive work and business. Asiimwe Julius, a village leader attributed the business growth, improved services and security in the area to the recently connected electricity. For example, a one Robert Kirungi who owns a petro station in Kasenyi was able to upgrade his station shifting from manual operation which enabled him cut costs of employing many people at a time.
The minister called upon the technical teams to sensitize and train the beneficiaries in operating and maintaining the installed systems. He asked the communities to jealously safe guard the installations to curb the threat of vandalism.
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