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US commits Shs 2bn to Uganda’s solar energy sector

A US government-funded initiative, Power Africa Uganda Accelerator, has offered $500,000 (about Shs 1.9 billion) to support the expansion of off-grid solar electricity solutions in the country.

The money will be channeled through Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA), which consists of more than 95 private companies providing solar energy solutions to consumers especially in rural areas.

Accelerator and USEA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to increase access and public awareness about the solar energy solutions.

According to the agreement, USEA will help in ensuring solar energy dealers comply by availing high quality products and services to their customers. Power Africa will financially support USEA in training its staff, dealers and promotion of solar energy solutions to the general public.

 USEA chairman Emmy Kimbowa (L) and Power Africa Uganda acting Chief of Party Brooke Whitaker exchange papers after signing MOU

Speaking after signing the MoU, USEA chairman Emmy Kimbowa said the deal is a timely boost to the sub-sector as the government pushes for increased uptake of solar energy solutions for off-grid rural communities.

Currently, USEA has more 95 members, who offer various solar energy related services including the importation, distribution, integration, installation, maintenance and repair of various solar energy solutions.

Kimbowa says they have developed a three-year strategic plan (2018-2020) in which the association will focus on recruiting more members to cover every district at the sub-county level.

By 2020, Kimbowa is optimistic that 60 per cent of households in Uganda will have a solar energy product or will be receiving solar related services.

The government wants off-grid consumers to access clean modern energy services in a bid to improve social services, economic growth and welfare to achieve its ambitious 2030 middle income status.

Power Africa Uganda acting Chief of Party Brooke Whitaker says working USEA will help the Accelerator’s objective of facilitating the increase of clean energy electricity generation and electricity access among rural and urban communities in Uganda.

Launched in February this year, USAID’s Power Africa Uganda Electricity Supply Accelerator is expected to add 1,000MW and one million new connections by 2020.  

mugalu@observer.ug 

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