According to MEMD, less than 20.6% of the rural and 55% of the urban population have electricity services (MEMD, 2015). Thus, majority of households depend on traditional biomass as a fuel source for primary energy demand.
Traditional biomass consists of fuel wood, charcoal, tree leaves, animal dung and agricultural residues burnt for residential use. It is unclean and inefficient and has negative health, gender and environmental consequences.
The high rates of deforestation in Uganda are partly attributed to charcoal burning and wood fuel, since forests supply well over 90 percent of Uganda’s energy requirements in form of fuel wood (MWE, 2016). With the oil and gas activities within the Albertine region which will adversely affect the environment like on Bugoma forest, Murchison landscape, Kabwoya and Bugungu wildlife reserves thus the ecosystem and bio diversity must be well protected.
In the Vision 2040, government targets to increase electricity per capita consumption to 3,668kWh by 2040 by increasing national grid access rate to 80 percent with total installed generation capacity reaching to 41,738MW.
Whereas, in the National Development Plans II (2015/16 –2019/20) government targets to increase power generation capacity from 825MW in 2012 to 2,500MW by 2020 through investment in renewable energy sources including hydropower and geothermal (Republic of Uganda, 2015).
Under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Action Agenda which was launched by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General in September 2010, Uganda targets to double the share of renewable energy in the energy mix by 2030 (Republic of Uganda, 2015).
To achieve those targets key stakeholders in the country should ensure renewable energy use and investing in solar, geothermal, biogas, efficient biomass systems and other alternatives which are clean and affordable for communities in the Albertine Graben to host oil and gas activities.
Low demand and high cost of electricity has led to low power consumption and limited capacity of Ugandans to pay for electricity, most people cannot afford the costs of connection to the grid and later on pay for the electricity despite programs such as rural electrification.
MEMD should develop and implement off-grid policy to facilitate the mainstreaming of off-grid systems and institutional solutions in the National Energy Policy and also invest in action research, targeted awareness and policy dialogues.
CSO’s and other key stakeholders should advocate more for sustainable, clean and affordable renewable energy to the benefit of women, men and youth through adopting effective strategies and practices that support renewable energy access in Albertine Graben.
Financial institutions providing of soft loans to customers and other local income sources such as energy cooperatives & village savings loans associations to financing clean energy products will help transiting to clean energy. With this our communities will be well protected from other adverse effects of oil exploration as well as aiming at achieving sustainable development goal 7 and 15.
Compiled by Sandra Atusinguza
AFIEGO field officer.