The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development , Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa has highlighted Uganda’s commitment to harness and promote the use of renewable energy across the country . Nankabirwa noted that government efforts to promote solar technology have already yielded several benefits – with an installed 50MW of grid-connected solar while over 24MW are planned for installation in the near future.

“Over 710,000 solar home and institutional systems have been installed for various off-grid applications including lighting, refrigeration and water heating. Development of professional human capacity to facilitate installation and management of these solar energy technologies continues to be undertaken,” the Minister stated .

Nankabirwa made the remarks this morning while opening a well attended  Renewable Energy Conference (RE21) at  Mestil in Kampala. The conference running under the theme “ stimulating the economy to safeguard livelihoods , jobs , business and industrial recovery” is aimed at among others providing a platform for the promotion of the efficient and rational utilization of energy and minerals resources .

Although Hon. Nankabirwa decried Uganda’s low access to electricity and other modern energy services which at just about  57% of the population, she hastened to add that her ministry was  fully committed to work  with  and coordinate  all stakeholders/ industry players in the renewable energy sub sector in order to ensure a predictable and vibrant energy sector. 

The energy sector is still dominated by solid biomass mainly in form of firewood, charcoal and crop residues which contribute 89.2% of the country’s consumable energy. Biomass-based fuels continue to be widely used in households, institutions, commerce and industry across Uganda. 

The challenges notwithstanding -through the Ministry of Energy  ,Uganda’s grid-installed generation capacity has increased from 183 MW in 1997 to over 1270 MW in 2021  and energy losses in the distribution segment have reduced from 38% to 16.4% in 2020.

The collection rates increased from 55% to 99.7%; private sector investment of nearly $2bn and a cost-reflective tariff and regulatory regime.

Nankabirwa said that government is focusing on exploiting and developing the abundant solar energy resources in the country through grid-generation, standalone and decentralized solar systems.

Solar energy for water pumping is another  key government priority. “This technology will provide water for farming purposes and mitigate the current challenges faced by Uganda’s farming communities who currently rely on rain-fed agriculture. Once adopted on a wide scale, solar water pumping will greatly improve food security and farmers’ yields.”

The Permanent Secretary who is the technical head at the Ministry of Energy Eng. Irene P.Bateebe explained that the development of renewable energy in Uganda is anchored on several policy documents that include the renewable energy policy 2007, the energy policy 2002 which is under revision and the attendant regulations.

Renewable energy development also anchors the deployment to other existing policy documents like the NDP3, vision 2030 and its well aligned within the short term, midterm and long term strategies for the development of Uganda’s energy sector.

Eng.Bateebe said that there are big opportunities for investment in renewable energy in Uganda. “This country is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. Being at the equator, the country receives an average of 8 hours per day of continuous sunshine. This gives a good potential for investment,” she added.

At the conference , Minister Nankabirwa was joined by colleagues to launch the National Renewable Energy Platform  (NREP) handbook which highlights the different stakeholders in the renewable energy space to promote collective action towards substantial benefit to the Ugandan people.

The late Prof Banada’s family received an achievement award om behalf of their late father who contributed greatly to the development of Uganda ‘ renewable energies . Prof Banada was among Ugandans who lost their lives to the Covid -19 pandemic .

The Conference was also attended by the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda HE Maria Hakansson, and the General Manager -Total Energies , Mr. Philippe Groueix who participated in a high level penal discussion on renewable energy development which was chaired by Eng. Bateebe.

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