Uganda, the pearl of Africa, blessed by nature’s hills and mountains presents a challenge to extend electricity to every shadow in the country. The scattered nature of settlements in the country especially in rural areas and islands coupled with lack of funding further inhibit extension of grid electricity to the entire country.
This is according to Rural Electrification Agency (REA), government’s arm responsible for ensuring power supply in rural areas. Grid electricity supply in Uganda is at 24 per cent while off- grids connect 27per cent of the population to electricity.
Off-grids are divided into two; isolated/standalone systems which include solar panels and mini girds which generate and distribute power. Mini grids in Uganda, which are predominantly manned by private sector are very important in the electricity subsector as they extend electricity to far to reach areas or where it is very costly for government.
By 2019, there were 12 operational mini grids under private, public and community owned owner- ship. Mr Henry Tumwesigye is the plant manager at Absolut Energy handling Kitobo power plant in Kalangala district. Kitobo power plant is a 230KWp hybrid mini grid constructed in 2015 and launched in 2016 by an Italian private company, Absolute Energy with support from its partners to produce solar energy from the sun.
Government has a master plan to power over 100 habitable islands on Lake Victoria with over 500 households each by mini grids in partnership with by development partners. Mr. Benon Bena, manager off-grid and renewable energy development at REA which is also mandated to handle matters of mini grids says there are currently 46 mini grids in implementation funded by government and development partners.
“7 of them are in Kasese and Rubirizi district co-financed by REA and WWF with funding from the European Union (EU). We have 25 mini grids in in Lamwo district funded by government, GIZ and EU,” he says. “We also have 15 mini grids in Rakai and Isingiro’s western districts of Uganda which are co- financed by REA and GIZ. GIZ is providing the power generation while REA provides the distribu- tion and connections,” he adds. Government has also concluded a feasibility study for 100 mini grids that will be constructed by KFW, EU and REA.