Left Menu
Development News Edition

Electricity providers in Uganda teams up to boost power sector across Africa

Devdiscourse News Desk | Kampala | Updated: 14-05-2019 16:11 IST | Created: 14-05-2019 13:30 IST
Electricity providers in Uganda teams up to boost power sector across Africa
Uganda's main electricity distribution company, Umeme Limited, and several decentralised renewable power firms aim to demonstrate the potential for an integrated approach. Image Credit: Pixabay

Electricity providers in Uganda are teaming up to find a new business model to boost the speed and efficiency of getting power to those living without it, in the hope it can be copied in other parts of Africa and Asia, project backers said Tuesday.

About 1 billion people worldwide still lack access to electricity, according to the latest data, with efforts moving too slowly to meet a U.N. goal of providing clean, affordable power to everyone on the planet by 2030. Meanwhile, about another 1 billion are connected to a weak electricity grid, suffering outages and a poor service, said Kristina Skierka, CEO of the Power for All campaign, which is coordinating the push in Uganda.

A major barrier to ending energy poverty is that national power utilities and the renewable energy companies that provide solar home systems and mini-grids for communities have rarely cooperated on the bigger picture, the group said in a report. "Neither centralised grids nor decentralised energy is purpose-built to solve the energy access problem alone, so there has to be a way to work together," Skierka told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Uganda, Power for All brought the two sides together, helping them to understand one another's constraints, such as strict regulations on utilities and a lack of subsidies and finance for off-grid providers, she noted. Under the "Utilities 2.0" initiative, Uganda's main electricity distribution company, Umeme Limited, and several decentralised renewable power firms aim to demonstrate the potential for an integrated approach.

Selestino Babungi, Umeme's managing director, said his company recognised the challenges of accelerating electricity access by extending the grid and wanted to help create solutions that were affordable and could be deployed quickly. Uganda has a target to increase access to electric power from just a quarter of households now to 60 per cent by 2027.

Ashvin Dayal, associate vice president at The Rockefeller Foundation - which is providing an unspecified amount of funding for the project - said his organisation believed it would "catalyse growth and unleash the power of both sectors". "Utilities 2.0 is going to provide a concrete example of the kinds of public-private partnerships that are needed today to fundamentally transform the trajectory of energy access not just in Africa, but worldwide," he said in emailed comments.

Skierka said she hoped new ideas would start to emerge from the Uganda project in six to nine months. Those would become the basis for a plan to extend the pilot to about 10 countries that were ready for such an approach. William Brent, director of Power for All, said smaller businesses were often better suited to delivering "last-mile" power services to rural communities than large utilities.

Co-operating on electrification could bring financial benefits on both sides, with utilities no longer losing money on connecting people in remote places and decentralised providers potentially finding it easier to access capital to expand. The end result would be a better-quality, more reliable service for customers that meets their needs and ability to pay, Brent added.


The move to craft a nimbler way to bring electricity to poor, hard-to-reach communities reflects a wider shift in how the world is starting to think about providing urgently needed infrastructure in a high-tech era.

A paper released at the start of May by the Blended Finance Taskforce, a group of about 50 bankers and development experts, urged a more efficient and resilient approach to infrastructure. Such a shift would look at more decentralised and digitised approaches, focused on services rather than physical assets such as roads, ports or power lines.

"Can we unhook ourselves from the notion that infrastructure is always this big and complicated thing?" asked task force chair Jeremy Oppenheim, founder of economic advisory firm SYSTEMIQ. "(People) don't need a road. They need to get from A to B." Targeting the end result, whether transport, clean water or energy, would free up thinking on the best ways to provide green and affordable infrastructure, and how to harness the power of new technologies and natural ecosystems, Oppenheim said.

The paper said the $2.5 trillion annual gaps between what the world needs to spend on infrastructure and what it is investing could be cut by $1 trillion through making infrastructure more productive and delivering services in a physically light way. As an example of such "Infra 3.0", Oppenheim said SYSTEMIQ is developing community-based waste management systems in Indonesia to stop plastic flowing into the sea and turning it instead into valuable feedstock for recycling.

The firm also is planning "Sustainable Special Economic Zones" in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya, which would be supplied with clean energy and would reuse materials and cut back on waste while attracting companies working to achieve global development goals.



Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...

Domestic seafood trade in focus as COVID-19 changes market dynamics

As predicted earlier in a report titled Seafood industry post-COVID 19 An overhaul to trigger the growth of small fisheries, one of the changes going ahead would be increased focus on domestic seafood trade, driven by falling exports and su...

Migration post-COVID 19: Taking cues from the past to rebuild economies

Migrants are an irreplaceable part of even the essential workforce of developed countries and are on the frontline in the fight against the crisis, making an immeasurable contribution to saving the lives of natives with voting rights....

Socialization Post-COVID-19: Local associations and online groups to play crucial role

Though every age group is suffering due to the global lockdown caused by the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges before adolescents are unique. Their social space has shrunk drastically, besides, they have become highly vulnerable to ...


Latest News

NZ's plan to eliminate Mycoplasma bovis on track

New Zealands world-first plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is on track the latest technical data shows, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien OConnor.Two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef Lamb New Ze...

21 new COVID-19 cases in Haryana

Twenty-one new COVID-19 positive cases have been reported in Haryana on Monday, taking the number of total positive cases to 1,213, according to the state health department.As many as 16 deaths have been reported in the state while 802 pati...

Women peacekeepers from Brazil and India share UN military gender award

For the first time, the UN Military Gender Advocate award has been awarded to two UN peacekeepers Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer, and Major Suman Gawani, of the Indian Army.The award, created in 2016, r...

UP govt releases 2,257 convicts on parole

The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday released 2,257 convicts, lodged in different jails in Lucknow, on parole for eight weeks. In March, the Supreme Court had directed decongesting of prisons in a bid to maintain social distancing amid th...

Give Feedback