Renewable Energy Expo Promises So Much

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) together with the National Renewable Energy Platform (NREP) is organizing the first ever Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 that will take place at Kololo Airstrip on 3rd - 5th November 2022. 

The expo is being organized under the theme 'Renewable Energy for Sustainable Industrialization, Inclusive Growth and Economic Recovery."

In this interview, Earthfinds editor Baz Waiswa talks to Nicholas Mukisa, the Deputy National Coordinator for the National Renewable Energy Platform, about the expo and the potential of renewable energy in Uganda.   

What is the Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 and what do you aim to achieve?

The Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 is one of the deliverables of NREP and the agenda for this conference is to bring together all players in the industry. 

We are looking at the private sector coming in to showcase products they have and development partners to exhibit and also make presentations. We have delegates who will come from Germany, the UK, UAE, India and other places. We are going to have manufacturers come and exhibit at the expo. 

We are targeting the private sector, government and MDAs, and development partners. We will have the general auditorium where morning activities like the launch will take place and after eleven, we will have breakout sessions and side events.

The expo is going to be a one-stop centre for renewable energy with investment and business opportunities. The expo will be free to the public but exhibitors have to pay. Exhibitors can register at www.re-conf.com or call NREP. 

What should people look out for at the expo?

One of the challenges we have in the sector is reliance on biomass. At the moment we have advances in the energy sector. Technology has advanced. We have now moved from tier one to tier two technology like electric pressure cookers, solar-powered hotplates and others that are the latest on the market.

The expo will provide an opportunity for people to interact with the private sector investors who have ventured into these advanced technologies. This is going to be a point of awareness. People will learn a thing or two. 

When you talk of renewable energy what do you exactly mean?

These are energy resources that cannot get finished. For example, the sun will shine as long as we still have life. The wind will blow, always. The water will always flow. Geothermal, which is underground, like Kitagata, will always be here.  

When you talk of sustainable industrialization, what is the state of renewable energy in Uganda? 

Today, if you are talking about renewable energy, you will mention hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. We mostly use hydro and solar. Renewable energy contributes about 92.5% of our energy generation. That is even before you incorporate Karuma and other plants.

Hydro is the most matured technology among the renewables and since it has been here longer than solar and wind, people think it is not renewable. 

But you know that most of our industries use diesel and generators which is not good if you are talking about sustainability, the environment and not jeopardizing the future generation. Today we are talking about climate change, and pollution - if you are using heavy fuel oils, these are heavy pollutants and not good. 

That is why the government is trying to decommission some of these plants and see that we can use renewables. Today, the president (Museveni) wants direct power lines to industrial parks; to supply electricity. 

Events like the upcoming expo are aiming at promoting renewable energy use but the market notices issues like pricing as a hindrance, how is this being addressed? 

If you look at the global trends of solar prices, the prices have been going down tremendously. If you look at the prices of solar in 2000, then 2020 and now, you will see that they have fallen by over 80%. And not only solar panels but also inverters, modules and other equipment that use solar.  

The other issue is the presence of counterfeit or fake products on the market. 

Counterfeits are killing the market. People should get value for money. We should at how we should standardize. Opportunities like the expo and NREP stakeholder engagements can help.

We need to tighten our borders to ensure that no counterfeits enter the market. No one will be talking about affordability if they are getting a quality, durable, value-for-money product on the market. 

 

DR Congo Entry Into EAC Good For Uganda Oil & Gas Sector

By Dr. Abel Tindao

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has joined the East Africa Community (EAC) at a critical time for Uganda and its quest to become an oil and gas producer. Uganda and partners - Tanzania, TotalEnergies, CNOOC Uganda and others – in February announced the Final Investment Decision (FID) that will see international oil companies invest about $15bn in the Albertine Graben, western Uganda.

Uganda, with 6.2bn barrels of yet to be extracted crude oil (1.7bn said to be recoverable) shares a political boundary with DRC. Already, endowed with various minerals like gold, diamond and other, DRC, according to a 2012 seismic survey, suspects to have about 3bn barrels in the blocks around the Lake Albert basin. This basin is shared by both countries.

It is important to note that while Uganda and DRC are politically friendly, the continued instability in East DRC, including harbouring Ugandan rebels is detrimental to regional peace, doing business, development and social welfare. But now that DRC has joined the EAC, there is hope that the bloc can as a group pacify that part of DRC.

Existing collaboration between Uganda & DRC

Late last year, Uganda and DRC collaborated to help Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) flush out Allied Defense Forces (ADF) rebels out of their hideouts inside DRC using what has been called Operation Shuja. The ADF, backed by terrorism groups like Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda, had bombed two separate targets in Uganda’s capital Kampala. This collaboration is an indication that more collaborations can be achieved more so if they are economic.

In December of 2021 it was reported that Uganda had started building 223km of roads in the DRC at a cost estimated to be USD330m to improve trade in the two countries.

In 2020, DRC exported $17.7M to Uganda. The main products that DRC exported to Uganda are Raw Tobacco ($4.65M), Scrap Iron ($3.73M), and Sawn Wood ($3.15M). In the last 25 years the exports of DRC to Uganda have increased at an annualized rate of 16.1%, from $421, 000 in 1995 to $17.7M in 2020.

In 2020, Uganda exported $265M to DRC. The main products that Uganda exported to DRC were Cement ($40.6M), Palm Oil ($24.2M), and Rice ($12.2M). In the last 25 years the exports of Uganda to DRC have increased at an annualized rate of 8.03%, from $38.4M in 1995 to $265M in 2020.

With these number as provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an online data visualization and distribution platform, Uganda stands to benefit from this arrange by exporting more to the DRC< a country with a population of 90 million people.

The two above collaboration show to what extent the two countries eying economic transformation can go. And now that they are endowed with rich natural resources, there is so much they can achieve if they focus on being good neighbors, promote peace, economic recovery and pan Africanism.

Untapped potential waiting

Of the entire Albertine Graben endowed with huge potential of hydrocarbons, Uganda has explored only 40 percent and will in the next 25 years when the confirmed recoverable oil is expected to be depleted, Uganda will have earned a humongous USD50bn. But that is anything to be worried about. Already Oranto Petroleum and Armour Energy have been licensed to do exploration in that area.

Also, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has sent out expression of interest for oil and gas exploration. Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) is teaming up China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC Uganda) to venture into that. This is an indication of how rich the Albertine Graben is and the prospects for Uganda continue to look good.

The DRC is already an oil producing country, positioned number 12 in Africa, depending largely on its coastal production activities in the western part of the country. But Sub Sahara’s largest country has huge untapped potential on borders of Uganda.

TotalEnergies, the oil company commandeering the development and eventual production of Uganda’s oil is said ‘to be chasing for business in DRC’ with a mission to tap into their resources. The oil company and Uganda & DRC can harmonize their interests and come up with a formula that will see the natural resources exploited and benefit the citizens.

Protecting the environment, rich biodiversity

Of course this has to be done sustainably since it is in an eco-sensitive area rich in biodiversity. You wouldn’t want to extract the hydrocarbon at the expense of the environment. That would be disastrous and irresponsible. Already, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have sounded worries that fossil fuels is putting the environment in Lake Albert basin at risk and fueling climate change.

To avert such fears, Uganda has a good National Oil Gas Policy whose mission is to create everlasting value from the resources and law regimes that are protective of not only revenues that will be accrued from the oil and gas production but also the environment. DRC can bench on what Uganda has achieved, and of course, Uganda can offer what it has learnt so far.

Tightening security & ensuring peace

In the jungles of eastern DRC, proximately next to Uganda, there over 133 rebel or militia groups funded by the illicit minerals trade. These militias are a menace and if not dealt with can curtail the proper and sustainable exploitation of these natural resources.

We have seen this happen in Nigeria’s Delta where militia bomb and set oil pipelines ablaze. Uganda and DRC need to find a domestic solution to this because, like we have seen, even with the presence of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), a UN peacekeeping force hasn’t stopped these militias from causing havoc.

Sometimes Lake Albert has seen Ugandan fishermen attacked by armed civilians or DRC soldiers and robbed clean while on the lake in Ugandan waters. This continues to happen even when the Ugandan government protested to their counterpart in Kinshasa. This cannot continue especially when exploration for oil is ongoing on the lake. Gun wielding bandits are a risk to manpower undertaking exploration. Oil companies wouldn’t want to invest and risk the lives of their workers like that.

It is therefore important that the two countries work out a solution and give investors and oil companies a guarantee that they are safe. Investor confidence is earned.

The writer is a Ugandan marine security expert.

Senegal, Mauritania Are Rich In Resources, Poor In Infrastructure, Now Is The Time To Change That

By NJ Ayuk

Beneath the coastal waters of Senegal and neighboring Mauritania lie some of the largest oil and natural gas discoveries in recent history, most occurring between 2014 and 2017. More than 1 billion barrels (bbl) of oil and 40,000 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas await extraction.

These discoveries have reinvigorated industry interest in the Senegal-Mauritanian basin. Despite the vast potential, though, understanding how to turn it into a significant production hub is still evolving. Previous attempts to monetize smaller finds have foundered. Production levels at regional facilities have declined over the last decade. While Senegal's consistently low-volume Gadiaga project remains in operation, at Mauritania's Deepwater Chinguetti project, production ceased altogether at the close of 2017.

The question of how to exploit these new reserves, especially considering that they cross international boundaries, is being answered in part through partnership. The complexities inherent to fossil fuel ownership claims were addressed and amicably resolved in 2018 when the two countries agreed to the terms of the Inter-State Cooperation Agreement that delineated equal shares of the offshore resources. The governments and the local workforces are ready for progress. They are eager to see the various fields in this zone operating at their highest capacity.

However, a lack of existing infrastructure means that developing these projects will be a considerable undertaking requiring serious investment from committed partners. Further complicating matters, timing is a factor too, and the clock is ticking. Mauritania, for example,  needs to find a substitute for its iron mining business, which has provided for a sizeable portion of the national economy but is subject to the ebb and flow of demand from key customer China. A decrease in the market paired with an expected drop in the trading price would substantially impact the nation. The fiscal gap could be filled with proceeds from liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced from Mauritania's fields but only if production can come onboard fast enough to satisfy Europe's growing LNG needs, which are expected to peak in the mid-2030s.

The problem is, neither Mauritania nor Senegal has the means to bring offshore gas to domestic markets or to export LNG to international markets. Onshore gas-to-power infrastructure is minimal at best. Successfully monetizing this region's resources is an objective requiring proportionate attention paid to addressing these inadequacies.

A Prescription for Success

As detailed in the African Energy Chamber's Petroleum Laws – Benchmarking Report for Senegal and Mauritania, opportunities exist for collaboration between local governments and international oil companies (IOCs) that would accelerate the development of these offshore reserves.

Although it's possible that someday Mauritania could connect with one of Algeria's three pipelines to Europe, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessels offer a more immediate and affordable solution.

International pipelines, an unrivaled method of fuel delivery when completed, are accompanied by their own unique, time-consuming difficulties during the planning stage. Any pipeline project must consider the potential for community displacement while simultaneously contending with the geological features and vegetation management issues. The risk of security concerns is another factor. While Senegal and Mauritania have not struggled with security issues, it is possible that instability in other countries in the region, such as the Islamic insurgency in neighboring Mali, could spread and pose a threat to land-based infrastructure. FLNG vessels like that offered by Golar, New Fortress Energy and Technip offer a reasonable way to negate most of these hindrances.

A Time to Act

Despite these time-sensitive challenges, Senegal and Mauritania offer international oil companies (IOCs) an undoubtedly lucrative opportunity deserving of investment. If the recent volatility in the European energy market is a forecast of coming circumstances, now is the time for international operators to establish solid relationships in Africa.

Ideally, IOCs should erect infrastructure that supports every facet of African gas and oil production. LNG export terminals, maritime logistics operations, and pipeline networks would all play a role in satisfying the world's already tremendous and growing need for energy —natural gas especially. Large-scale expenditures like these are in the best interest of IOCs, and Senegal and Mauritania extend a degree of cooperation not found elsewhere in the world.

Promising Steps

Mauritanian leadership has been proactively attracting international investment by relaxing restrictive business regulations, developing a gas master plan, and designating the port city of Nouadhibou as a gas processing, import, and export hub.

In addition to establishing offshore exploratory relationships with BP, Kosmos Energy, and Mauritania's own national oil company, Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), the nation also seeks to develop onshore refineries in the effort to combat energy poverty on a grand scale.

President Macky Sall has pushed and executed a plan to improve the country's international appeal. Outlined in 2014, the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) allocates billions to industrial infrastructure across the nation.

Construction of a deepwater port in the capital city of Dakar began earlier this year, as did the construction of Ourossogui-Matam Airport in the northeast. Improvement projects at airports in Kedougou, Tambacounda, and Ziguinchor have also commenced.

As of last year, high-speed, regional express rail travel is available in Senegal, and an expansion of the Dakar-Diamniadio-AIBD Toll Highway is currently underway.

Additionally, Dakar will host the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference and exhibition Sept. 1-2 this year, where industry leaders will present the case for further international investment in Senegal and the region on the world stage.

Reinvestment: The Keystone of Sustainability

The African Energy Chamber is invigorated by the notable and ongoing progress in the MSGBC Basin. We regard success in the region as a certainty, but only with monetization and reinvestment in infrastructure will that success prove long-lived.

We encourage the governments of Senegal and Mauritania to remain vigilant concerning the monetization of their reserves. Each step of the gas value chain should generate revenue, and a portion of that revenue should further finance infrastructure development at home.

The worldwide demand for natural gas is already strong, and that demand increases with the passing of each season. Senegal and Mauritania stand uniquely poised to satisfy their national energy needs while satisfying those of Europe and beyond. Decisive action now paired with long-term, committed partnerships will guarantee the achievement of this objective.

Uganda Will Need Green Investments For Sustainable Economic Growth

By Rachael Amongin

Amidst the ‘green recovery’ drive, many governments are still prioritising environmentally unfriendly stimulus measures supporting fossil fuels to support poverty eradication and economic development which remain the key priorities for developing countries like Uganda.

Mr. Geofrey Ssemakasa a poultry farmer in Mukono district quit formal employment for agriculture and he has never looked back on the decision he made but instead is happy with what he has accomplished since he started poultry farming.

Like Mr. Ssemakasa, a number of people returned to agriculture and other natural resource-dependent activities, as a means of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and this has put additional strain on natural resources, which were already stretched from rapid population growth, urbanisation, a refugee influx, and the drive for industrialisation. Increased demand for food and energy to sustain livelihoods and create income sources have added to the already high levels of unsustainable natural resource utilisation.

The World Bank reported that about 41 percent of Uganda’s land is now degraded, with an unsustainable rate of soil erosion and land degradation whose cost is estimated at about 17 percent of GDP; forest cover is declining by 2.6 percent every year, which is one of the highest rates of forest loss globally. Climate risks, including slow-onset change and extreme events, have exacerbated this natural capital degradation contributing to economic vulnerabilities and poverty, and will continue to do so in the future.

At a macro level, agriculture remains the mainstay of Uganda’s economy, supporting the livelihoods of over 70% of the population, most of whom rely solely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood yet in addition to the post-COVID-19 crisis, Uganda also faced a locust invasion affecting crop production in parts of the northern and eastern regions. Added to this, was the impact of flooding and landslides that had a significant negative impact on Uganda’s food security situation. These natural disasters have affected the harvest and caused increased food insecurity in the worst-hit areas.

Looking at the budgetary allocations for FY 2022/23 of Shs. 628 billion for the environment and climate change sector, including funding to enhance resilience to climate change, restoration of degraded and protected ecosystems, and forest conservation, the allocated resources are inadequate. They lack consideration of environmental sustainability in the long run.

It has been observed that if the identified green growth interventions were fully implemented, they could provide a boost to economic activity, worth around 10% of GDP by 2040, deliver employment of up to 4 million jobs and reduce future greenhouse gas emissions by 28% and considering that Uganda is a natural resource-based economy where the majority of the population highly depends on natural resources for their livelihoods, it follows that the transition to a green economy will require a paradigm shift in the management of the natural resources.

The natural environment is humanity’s first line of defense against floods, droughts, heat waves, and other disasters thus the need to protect and work with nature to build resilience and reduce climate risks at all scales. Let us continuously advocate for catalytic investment in sectors like agriculture, tourism, and clean energy that have got high green growth multiplier effects.

Rachael Amongin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here Is Why You Should Drink Milk During Pregnancy

Maternal diet influences the health of both the child and mother. Pregnancy is one of the most crucial and sensitive periods in a woman’s life and also very exciting because it is the time the entire family awaits the birth of a new born baby, therefore taking extra caution to have a balanced diet is crucial. 

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka – a Paediatrician, and Senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child health at Makerere University ‘s School of Medicine says, ‘During pregnancy, a mother is not only responsible for herself but also the new life that is growing inside her.

Optimal nutrition is of utmost priority and drinking milk during pregnancy ensures that the mother meets many of her nutritional requirements. A pregnant woman needs an abundance of nutrients during pregnancy, which milk provides.’

Dr. Kitaka adds that today, getting milk isn’t a challenge because it is always available since there are options of having it pre-packaged for consumption. 

Marketing Manager Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth highlights that Fresh Dairy Long life UHT milk offers convenience to consumers because it lasts up to 90 days with or without it being refrigerated, tastes as good as fresh milk and is now available in both 500ml and 200ml packs costing 1,600UGX and 800UGX respectively. 

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka noted the following as critical nutrients that pregnant mothers can get from drinking a glass of milk (200ml) daily: Calcium, Protein, iodine, Potassium, Phosphorous and Vitamins B2 and B12. 

Milk is an excellent source of Calcium: A pregnant woman needs at least 1000 mg of calcium every day which can be attained by daily consumption of milk. Calcium helps strengthen the baby's rapidly-developing bones and teeth, boosts muscle, heart and nerve development as well. 

Milk is rich in Protein: During pregnancy, protein is very important because it aids in the build-up of the uterus. This vital nutrient ensures a steady blood supply, especially to vital parts of the female anatomy such as the breasts and the baby’s tissues. 

Rich in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is vital to ensure a normal birth weight and prevention of neonatal rickets. You can get most of your nutrients and other vitamins from various food sources. But when it comes to Vitamin D, milk is one of the very few sources rich in this vitamin. As a result, milk becomes an important component of your pregnancy diet, says Dr. Sabrina. 

Helps to Combat Heartburn

Milk is a natural antacid and can combat heartburn which is a common occurrence during pregnancy, thanks to all the hormones that are playing havoc within the mother’s body. Since it is not advisable to take over-the-counter medications when you are pregnant, milk becomes an excellent solution to heartburn.

‘In fact, drinking a glass of warm milk right before bedtime improves the quality of sleep for pregnant mothers because insomnia is common during pregnancy. However, never drink milk immediately after a meal,’ cautions Dr. Sabrina. 

Healthy Way to Stay Hydrated

Dr Sabrina Kitaka says that keeping yourself hydrated while pregnant is extremely important because the baby is also drawing fluids from your body. Milk will help you keep the hydration level of the body up. 

Higher Level of Insulin

Milk contains a higher level of insulin. Studies have proven that children born to women who regularly consumed milk during their pregnancy had a lesser risk of contracting diseases or developing Type 2 diabetes in their late teens, according to Dr. Sabrina. 

Enhances the Fetal Brain Development

Milk has a significant quantity of iodine. IQ development in children is key and Iodine is a key component. Also, being rich in proteins, amino acids, and fatty acids, milk helps with the development of the baby’s nervous system.’ 

Dr. Kitaka concluded by saying that milk can be extremely beneficial during pregnancy if taken correctly and cautions that pregnant mothers should avoid dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, endeavor to drink warm milk, never gulp milk fast, but enjoy it in small sips.

Once in a while, you can give it a twist by diluting milk with water (two portions of milk to one portion of water); preparing fruit shakes and smoothies by adding fruits; or pouring it over your breakfast cereal.

 

Conserve Forests; Conserve A Nation “Uganda”

By Aganyira Comfert

Forest conservation is the practice of planning and maintaining forested areas for the benefit and sustainability of the future generation. It also involves the upkeep of natural resources within a forest that are beneficial for both humans and the ecosystem. 

Given the fact that, Uganda’s forests habit different species of animals, birds and trees, this implies that they are of great importance towards the economy of the country. 

Agriculture being the largest income generating sector in Uganda’s economy and the greatest percentage depending on natural rainfall, and the forest aid in rainfall formation, this implies that the sectors’ productivity is to be affected when forests are not conserved hence affecting the economy of the country. 

Additionally, tourism also contributes a lot to the GDP of the country and forests act as tourist attraction itself and also the different animal, birds and other unique features hence the need for them being conserved. So failure to have them conserved, it implies the GDP of the country is to fall hence affecting the economy. 

Furthermore, the standard of living of the people in terms of getting jobs to act as tourist guides or being employed in the forestry organizations like NFA, supplying foods, selling craft among others is improved hence peoples wellbeing improved in terms of self- sustainability when the forests are conserved. Therefore, forest conservation helps to reduce on dependence levels and poverty levels in the country. 

A lot is got from forests and if not conserved, it implies the future of our country is at stake. So I call upon the responsible bodies to ensure that forests are conserved so as to save the future Nation.

When the forests are not conserved, it implies different sectors of the economy are to be affected like agriculture, tourism and others which contribute a lot to the GDP of Uganda.

So when the sectors are less productive, it implies the government has to seek for other means hence increasing taxes and which is affecting the prices of the products hence affecting the peoples’ standards of living and the future of the country. 

In conclusion, forests have to be considered important and conserved. So the responsible bodies need to advocate for no deforestation and generation of other means of fuel other than charcoal and firewood. 

Aganyira Comfert

In Hoima

 

Gender Inclusion In Climate Change Adaptation And Mitigation Is Very Vital

By Ireen Twongirwe

We need to first appreciate that we have incredible women who persist in a world that limit them. We all need to know that gender inclusive in climate change adaptation and mitigation is very vital in social economic transformation.

8th March, 2022 was international women’s day under the theme” Gender Equality today for Sustainable Tomorrow”. Following the celebrations of the day, women are all unique and that’s the beauty of it all.  There are uniqueness, play important  role in conserving and protecting the environment from natural calamities.

It’s noteworthy, that women are the champions and bread givers of the family though they have been limited to express their talents and skills in climate change solution. This is due to the fact that women are not allowed to own land and other natural resources and yet they interact with them in their day to day life through collecting firewood, grazing animals, agriculture, herbal medicine among others. Due to climate change impacts, extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have greatly   impacted   the poor and most vulnerable, 70% of the world’s poor are women.

Despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Women have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to come up with practical solutions. But they are still largely untapped resource, restricted land rights, lack of access to financial resources, training and technology, and limited access to political decision-making spheres often prevent them from playing a full role in tackling climate change and other environmental challenges.

More so, gender inequality has dramatically limited the resilience and adaptive capacity of women, families and communities. It has also restricted options for climate change mitigation. It’s clear to note that women’s empowerment and advancing gender equality can deliver results across a variety of sectors, including food and economic security and health. It can also lead to more environmental friendly decision making at household and national levels.

Further, countries need gender Action Plan to develop comprehensive action that integrates gender concerns and builds on women’s unique knowledge and perspectives in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

What can we do to include gender in climate change adaptation and mitigation.?

We need to ensure equal space and resources for women and men to participate in climate change decision making and action at all levels. Climate finance should be accessible to both men and women and designed to generate mutual benefits, not exacerbate patterns of inequity. We also need to know that women have proven to be leading the way towards more equitable and sustainable solutions to climate change. And so this gives them the platform to be included in climate change solutions.

Further, we also need to appreciate women’s innovations and expertise to transform lives and livelihoods, and increase climate resilience and overall well-being of   communities.

In addition, we need to  recognize  the important contributions of women as decision makers, stakeholders, educators, carers and experts across sectors and at all levels can lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change.

In conclusion, adaptation is effective when it is equitable, providing opportunities and benefits for all people. The urgency of adapting to climate change has never been clearer and so ,   we have an opportunity, through global commitments like the Paris Agreement, to rapidly scale up action in this area. For this to be effective, we need to start from the premise that everyone matters either rich or poor, farmer or civil servant, woman or man. In this, we shall bring diverse voices, including those that are typically excluded, into decision making to identify the best solutions for adapting to climate change.

And lastly, we need to ensure that investments in adaptation provide equitable benefits for people of all genders and social groups. This is the only way we can build families, communities and societies that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

For God and my Country,

Ireen Twongirwe, Executive Director, Women for Green Economy Movement Uganda (WoGEMU)

Prioritize Affordable & Reliable Clean Energy Access To Boost Agriculture Production

By Gerald Barekye

Last week the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni instructed the ministry of defence to see that all army barracks in the country transit from hydroelectricity to solar power.

The president reasoned that the ministry has been running a constrained budget and one of the budget stress was because of the high power bill.

This was a good idea and it came at a time when every Ugandan is crying about high power tariffs that have resulted in the closure of some businesses due to failure to pay electricity bills.

And to make the matter worse, some people have resorted to stealing power as it is one way they can dodge the high bills. This has resulted in the death of many people who steal power.

One such incident recently happened in Kasenge trading centre where 3 people died on the spot in January this year after being electrocuted.

It should be noted that Uganda is among the countries with the highest solar energy resource throughout the year with the mean solar radiation of 5.2 kwh per square meter per day on a horizontal surface.

This level of the sun is favourable for the application of several solar technologies according to experts. In addition, the sun is free of charge and is everywhere in the country.

During the launch of the parish development model project, the president said that Uganda should not conserve poverty and to me, this was a very big statement.

It should be noted that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy employing about 70% of the total population.

Most agriculture production is carried out by rural people in rural areas where there is insufficient or no power at all.

The lack of electricity has limited farmers’ levels of production and a lot of postharvest losses.

The parish development model talks about Shs17m that will be given to each parish, while this is a good idea, this cash handout doesn’t address the needs of the rural people.

People in rural areas need the power to boost their production and small businesses and as we have seen solar power is the most affordable.

These solar panels will power irrigation equipment and help farmers throughout the agricultural value chain.

Last year, Ntungamo was hit by a severe drought causing crops including the income-generating cash crops like coffee to dry. I witnessed farmers cutting the young dried coffee trees for firewood.

This was an avoidable embarrassment that wouldn’t have happened if the government had established solar-powered irrigation schemes in remote areas.

Furthermore, about 60% of people in rural areas have animals that produce dung that would be used for biogas production which produces power that can be used for business and domestic work.

All these are options that government should prioritize such that rural people are helped to move out of poverty.

The government of Uganda should negotiate and work with solar distribution companies to provide solar at affordable prices to people in rural areas.

The government should also put in place consumer protection laws since there are now fake solar products on the market.

Finally, mindset change training should be done by the government so that people choose solar power over hydroelectricity. This will save them from the high electricity bills.

Gerald Barekye is a research associate at AFIEGO

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

World Wildlife Day: Let Us Reject Economic Activities That Hurt Wildlife

By Ben Ntale and Paul Muwonge

On March 3, 2022, Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark World Wildlife Day. The day was celebrated under the theme, recovering key species for ecosystem restoration.

A February 17, 2022 press statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities notes that the theme of  the day “draws attention to the critical role that keystone species of plants and animals – many of which are threatened or endangered, play in ensuring ecosystem health and human survival.”

The statement adds, “[The theme] highlights the need to protect and conserve critically endangered species, support restoration of their habitats and ecosystems and promote sustainable utilisation by humans...”

The Inclusive Green Economy Network-East Africa (IGEN-EA) joins the rest of the world to mark the 2022 World Wildlife Day.

We would like to call to attention three species of concern that require more conservation efforts. These include: the grey-crowned crane (commonly known as the Crested Crane), vultures and chimpanzees.

The Crested Crane is of great significance to Ugandans because it is the country’s national emblem. The bird is also important for seed dispersal.

Due to industrial and farming activities in wetlands among other factors, this important bird’s population size has reduced. Wetlands are the breeding grounds for the Crested Crane.

Estimates show that in the past two decades or so, the population of Crested Cranes in Uganda reduced from “about 35,000 in the 1990s to less than 15,000 in 2015”. This is a decline of about 43%! Such a travesty!

Another bird of concern are the vultures, or ensega in Luganda. Vultures used to be seen even in places such as Kampala. In fact, Busega was named after ensega. Vultures and other scavengers play important roles such as the removal of waste and consumption of carcasses. This removes harmful bacteria from the environment to support the maintenance of animal and human health. 

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and poisoning of animals that the vultures feed on, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) estimates that the vulture population in Uganda today stands at no more than 500 to 750 individuals. 

Chimpanzees are another endangered species which are even under more pressure due to destruction of forests for sugarcane, oil roads and other activities in the Albertine Graben. Chimpanzees play roles in seed dispersal, scientific research and others.

Birds and chimpanzees also play economic roles. For instance, in the US, birding is a $41 billion industry. In Uganda, birders spend more than other tourists.

Where a safari to a national park may cost $1,500, a birder may spend up to $5,000.

On this World Wildlife Day therefore, let us recommit ourselves to creating awareness and conserving wetlands, forests and other habitats to protect wildlife.  Let us reject economic activities that hurt wildlife.

The writers are members of the Inclusive Green Economy Network-East Africa (IGEN-EA).

Gov’t Should Subsidize Cost Of Solar Panels Because Solar Energy Is Pocket-Friendly

Solar is a relatively inexpensive source of electrical energy where hydro-electric power is inconvenient and unreasonably expensive. The burden of monthly charges of hydro-electric power has made me think twice about using it. However, monthly payments would not be such a problem but the bills seem to be unreasonable.

At my home I only use electricity between 7:00pm and 10:00pm and from 5:00am to 7:00am and most cases on weekend. However, Umeme brings me a bill of sh 200,000 or more, like a person who uses electricity often, I wonder when I used so much power.

Solar power is the conversant of sunlight free electricity, either directly using photovoltaic (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Unlike hydro-electric power, solar power involves no bureaucracy and single cost during installation. The reason is that there is no need for poles or lines and it is a matter of purchasing a solar panels that fit one’s purse that is then installed on the roof of the house.

Because solar power is cheaper, the government should think of subsidizing the cost solar panels. If this is done, clean power will become more affordable to many Ugandans and therefore, most parts of the country, especially in rural areas, will have access to it. The low cost of solar electricity will also help low income earners to have light in their houses without suffering the effects of smoke produced by lamps and tadobas. It goes without saying that solar power is cost effective and is therefore the best alternative for Uganda’s poor. It is the best substitute because once fixed, there are no monthly charges to pay and nor is there abrupt increase of monthly payments per unit.

Access to affordable energy is crucial in the eradication of poverty through advancement in health, education, water supply and industrialization, and combating climate change.

Although the Government of Uganda is making heavy investments in the construction of hydro-power dams and extending the grid across the country to provide electricity to all Ugandan, Government needs to broaden its scope and focus more on investing heavily in other renewable sources particularly off-grid solar energy.

Increased investment in solar energy would not only increase access to affordable and clean energy for, especially rural households in Uganda, but it would also help to reduce carbon emissions from use of fossil fuels in especially urban centres, thereby, addressing one of the biggest drivers of global warming and climate change.

In addition, increased investment in solar powered water irrigation systems could improve agricultural production in rural areas, thereby, addressing poverty and the challenges of food insecurity, contributing to the SDG on zero hunger.

Further, solar powered water pumps would enable rural households to access clean water and would improve the quality of education and life of girls and women respectively. With less household chores such as fetching water from wells, girls would better be able to stay in school.

Good health and wellbeing would be ensured through increasing access to safe water and sanitation as poor sanitation contributes to diarrhea, the second leading cause of death in children under five worldwide with Uganda not being spared.

Therefore, the solar energy sector continues to face several challenges because the government of Uganda lacks laws and policies to specifically address the solar challenges such as Solar Energy Policy, consumer protection policy and others. This is why there are several cases of low-quality solar products on the market in Uganda. This is an obstacle for the off-grid solar industry at large because the distribution of substandard products negatively affects the consumer citizens that mostly deserve access to modern and reliable energy services, such as durable and high-quality solar systems.

There is need for government to create a market space where Ugandans are aware of good quality products and are guaranteed such when they make the investment to access modern energy services. This is important because solar energy providers not only need to ensure customers enjoy their experience with solar products, but also appreciate the importance of having high-quality hardware and service.

As a result, solar and other renewable energy electrification efforts in the country remain uncoordinated. This explains why the government’s efforts to expand electricity access and affordability especially for the poor and vulnerable continue to fail.

For God and My Country

Cirrus Kabaale, Strategic Response on Environmental Conservation (STREC)

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Kampala