By Sierra Ruth Arinaitwe
Experts under the umbrella Energy Sector GIS Working Group (ESGWG) have attributed the improved service delivery in Uganda’s energy sector to integrated sets of data, hardware, software, and processes designed as a computer system known as GIS (Geographical Information System).
While delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Minister of State for Energy, Brian Isabirye, the Commissioner-Renewable Energy at the Ministry noted that GIS has been a vital tool for various actors in the energy sector including utility companies, private sector actors, government agencies and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD)- in the overall improved service delivery to the Ugandan people.
He noted that GIS is part of all sub-sectors covered by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development including, surveying and mapping of the vast mineral resources in the Ugandan soil, exploration of the oil resources and the planning of the oil pipeline among others.
This was during the 9th Utilities GIS (Geographical Information System) Conference organized under the theme “location intelligence powering sustainable energy” -that brought together GIS specialists, planners, monitoring and evaluation officers, decision makers and technology providers to present and discuss best practices for spatial data collection, data analysis, map presentation and system integration.
Mr. Nicholas Kasolo a GIS officer under the Rural Electrification Programme underscored the importance of GIS in the energy sector -which is very vital in taking prompt and accurate decisions necessary in the electricity transmission or distribution network. “It has the ability to perform spatial queries and also to know where in Uganda energy resources are located, where the customers of these energy resources are and how to get the energy from its resource to the customer,” he explained .
It is currently being used in the implementation of the National Electrification Strategy; an exercise aimed at meeting the energy demand of the Ugandan population. “The recently adopted National Electrification Strategy, NES, a completely GIS-based modelling exercise took into account the administrative boundaries and the existing assets from the Electricity Utility companies to come up with a national strategy to electrify each and every village in Uganda,” Kasolo stated.
GIS allows the integration of large amounts of geospatial data and sharing of data collected in the energy space by the major players in the energy sector. It also helps them in data collection, storing and management thus empowering them in proper planning, monitoring and managing assets in the energy sector.
Some of the major players in Uganda ‘s energy sector include – Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL), UMEME Ltd, Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL), Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (UEDCL), the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) the Rural Electrification Programme (REP), and the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
Protaze Tibyakinura the Chief Technical services officer at Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) said UEDCL uses GIS for network and asset monitoring and management, field operations support and customer support.
“For the case of customer support, GIS provides location intelligence thus enabling us to know the exact location of the customer with just a customer number. With this intelligence, we are now able to resolve our customers’ issues swiftly.”
Tibyakinura however echoed the need to unlock the full potential of GIS and geospatial data in various government ministries and public at large. “We need to utilize the use of GIS in integrated planning within the energy and all other relevant sectors of Uganda,” he said emphasizing the need for additional sensitization and investments in GIS to ensure that it is reliable for use by the public.
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