Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) has Thursday launched a web portal that will facilitate effective communication among member companies as well as enhance access to information on solar energy in Uganda.
USEA is an independent not-for-profit association dedicated to facilitating the growth and development of solar energy business in Uganda and East Africa. Over 130 companies dealing in solar products in Uganda are currently registered under the Association.
According to Dr. Sheila Desai, the Director for Economic Growth at USAID Uganda, access to cleaner and productive energy is critical for addressing poverty and economic development in Uganda. She said increasing uptake of cleaner and productive energy among rural Ugandans is in line with efforts to enable Uganda achieve goal seven of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on access to energy for all by 2030.
“Solar energy has the potential to meet the energy needs of Ugandans including women and girls especially those in rural areas. With solar energy, communities power irrigation systems; communities can store medicine in rural health centers; and communities can improve the quality of education children receive,” said Dr. Desai during the launch at Kampala Serena Hotel.
“This however must be achieved with the support of policy interventions in addition to ICT and digital transformation efforts that culminate into the much-needed cost reductions to enhance cost-effective service delivery,” she explained.
USEA’s Chief Executive Officer, Joyce Nkuyahaga noted that USEA is proud to officially unveil this online platform that will serve as a knowledge hub for USEA’s members and others key stakeholders interested in the solar sector, the opportunities and financial resources related to the solar energy sector in Uganda.
Key stakeholders include; government, donor agencies, foreign missions, businesses, potential investors, and the general public.
“A critical part of USEA’s work is communication and advocacy. As an industry body, USEA is responsible for advocating to key stakeholders such as consumers and policy makers, about key issues related to the solar sector for instance on how to purchase quality solar products and support on tax related issues on behalf of its members to advance the industry,” said Nkuyahaga.
“This platform will avail us the opportunity to reach as many industry actors as we can.”
She also made an appeal for more interested companies to join USEA in order to benefit from collective representation and advocacy, training, financial support, capacity building, networking, quality equipment assessment and management and market opportunities.
Power Africa which partnered with USEA to launch the online portal, is a US government led partnership that brings together technical capacities, capabilities, resources and programs of 12 US government Departments and Agencies and 16 international Development partners to provide market-driven solutions to advance the goals of the electrify Africa Act of 2015 to catalyze growth of small business, the power industry and bring electricity to millions of people for the first time.
According to a study on the use and Viability of Solar Energy in Uganda by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, 88% of Ugandans use kerosene for lighting and 79% use firewood for cooking while only 1% use solar energy for the two purposes. The heavy reliance on biomass by the country as a source of energy in day to day life puts the country at risk of environmental degradation and climate change.
Uganda’s electricity access currently stands at about 20% with 90% of the population still dependent on biomass. About 78% of Ugandans are not connected to the national grid. Important to note is that existing solar energy data clearly indicates that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year and has the potential to meet the energy needs of Ugandans.
However, the scale at which solar energy is being used for productive purposes in Uganda is still very small because of a number of constraints notably; lack of investment finance and adequate knowledge among others.