The Uganda Ministry of Energy teed off the construction works of the largest privately funded solar power plant in East Africa. The project, based in Soroti, eastern Uganda, is being bankrolled by Access Uganda Solar ltd, a partnership between EREN RE and Access Power.
Once finished and operational, the solar plant will power 40,000 homes and businesses. 80 percent of residents in Soroti and neighboring district currently don’t have access to electricity. This project, worth $19m, comes as a major boost. It will provide clean, low carbon, sustainable electricity to national grid.
State Minister for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris expressed government’s gratitude to Access Power for the development of energy in this region. “Uganda suffers an energy deficiency and has sought to work with Corporations such as Access Power to bridge this gap,”
“Government priorities such Agro Processing can only get lifted off the ground with sufficient and reliable energy. I have confidence in the project because our country enjoys an all year round sunny climate which is the resource for Solar Power.”
It is believed that the project will spur growth of small agrobased factories, power social centers like schools, hospitals among others.
Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, said breaking the ground to symbolize start of construction of the project marks a major milestone for Access Power, for Uganda and for the development of Africa.
“According to the International Energy Agency, 60% of Africa’s population are living without reliable electricity supplies whilst as a continent it has attracted $25 billion in investment in renewables in the past six years. Our company brings innovation, expertise and determination to every project we work on and we are particularly proud of Soroti and everyone involved”.
The Soroti project is the first solar power plant to be successfully developed under the GET FiT scheme, in partnership with the Government of Uganda through the country’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA). It is funded by the European Union Infrastructure Trust Fund, and supported by the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Current power generation in Eastern Uganda is intermittent, especially during the summer months, with extensive load shedding of up to four hours a day. This has impeded economic development in the area and also has an impact on the quality of life. Local labour is being hired for the construction phase and the developers will also recruit and train engineers to operate the plant.
Christophe Fleurence, Vice-President of Business Development - Africa of EREN RE, said the extensive political and international support to this project underlines the broad willingness to shift boundaries in electricity generation.
“EREN RE which is a renewable energy investor and a long-term independent power producer is determined to switch light on in many other places in Africa and emerging markets more generally, as efficiently as it was achieved at Soroti.”