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Nationwide connections set for January as EASP takes shape

Energy PS Irene Batebe

Energy PS Irene Batebe

The ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has set January, 2024 to kick off countrywide electricity connections as part of the Electricity Access Scale-up Project (EASP).

This follows the recent signing of the implementation agreement between the ministry and Umeme. The five-year project, which is funded by the World Bank to a tune of $638m [about Shs 2.2tn], became effective July 20, 2023.

The key implementing entities are the Energy ministry, which will implement the grid extension and connectivity components. On the other hand, the Uganda Energy Credit Capitalization Company will handle the off-grid component. In October, Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa expressed optimism that by 2030, all Ugandans will have access to electricity as a result of EASP.

“The country is targeting to achieve 100% access by 2030. Given the progress so far, the sector requires funds to implement the project to take us to this target. However, the ministry has secured funding from the World Bank under the Electricity Access Scale Up Project (EASP) that will be utilized partially for free connections across the country. This is expected to increase connections by over one million,” Nankabirwa told parliament.

Meanwhile, Irene Batebe, the ministry permanent secretary, told The Observer that under that phase, both customers that don’t require a pole and those that require one pole will be connected for free in line with Uganda’s free electricity connections policy.

She also noted that procurement of the planning, design and supervision consultancy for grid extension is in advanced stages, with contract signing expected in February, 2024. So, as Uganda seeks to achieve industrialization and value addition to create jobs and wealth, the EASP is expected to have a significant impact on Uganda’s energy sector.

Batebe added that the project is in line with the government manifesto to provide clean energy and increase access to electricity.

“The country’s current electrification rate stands at 58 per cent (off-grid and on-grid) and the target is to achieve universal access by 2030. The EASP will contribute significantly to this goal,” she told The Observer in an interview.

She added that the EASP will increase access to electricity by connecting over one million households, commercial enterprises, refugee-host communities and districts to the grid. It will also make 150,000 off grid connections as well as 10 industrial parks.

The project will also support various sectors, such as households, refugee and host communities, industrial parks, commercial enterprises and public institutions, in terms of increasing access to electricity.

“The electricity connections will go a long way to contribute to electrification of different enterprises. We will connect 350 schools, 350 health centers and a number of water schemes under the project. It will also support agro-processing under the Parish Development Model by providing electricity to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small businesses,” she noted.

On the issue of the mapping, she said the project will enable the connection of over one million customers for free on the grid.

“This will be done by connecting those that don’t require a pole and those that need one pole to get connected. Secondly, grid extension will be carried out to target connecting households, commercial enterprises, refugee-hosting communities and districts, industrial parks. Identification, scoping and prioritization of preliminary schemes for grid extension is ongoing,” she said.

“What’s more, about 600 government health and education institutions will receive solar systems. The project will also support installation of solar for water pumping systems. Meanwhile, clean cooking solutions such as stoves will be provided to Ugandans and public institutions like health centers and schools.”

Regarding targeted timelines and how effectiveness will be measured, Batebe said the key measurement for the project will be the number of connections made on the grid.

“We are also going to be keen on the number of medium and low voltage lines constructed, number of industrial parks connected, number of connections made on off-grid, public institutions connected with solar systems as well as the number of clean cooking solutions for public institutions,” she said.

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