By Sandra Atusinguza
The supply and availability of solar energy is critical to the social and economic transformation and development of the country or the public will shift to the destruction of the environment for energy alternatives.
In a current COVID 19 pandemic situation like this, solar energy could be the best alternative to electricity to provide power and run machines in hospitals and factories which suffer payments of electricity bills time and again, further, the recent countrywide power blackout due to environmental hazards at Nalubale dam a few minutes to the presidential address on Coronavirus would be addressed by alternatives like solar energy.
The current Uganda’s Energy Policy 2002 aims “to meet the energy needs of Uganda’s population for social and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner”.
The regulatory framework, the Constitution outlines that the State shall promote and implement energy policies that will ensure that people’s basic needs and those of environmental preservation are met thus an independent solar energy policy should clearly state out and amplify this further.
Uganda’s abundance of sunshine throughout the year on average solar radiation is 5.1 kWh/m2/day clearly indicate that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year with a variation (max month/min month) of only about maximum 20% (from 4.5 to 5.5 W/m2), this can be attributed to the county’s’ location near the equator. (MEMD, 2004)
In the recent research conducted by AFIEGO and Busara centre in the Albertine region about communities’ clean energy use and promotion it was discovered that Ugandans have resorted to obtaining own (individual) clean energy options to meet their domestic needs, which include installation of solar equipment.
Solar as a source of energy is also used for lighting, heating and operating machines because of the scarcity of electricity and escalating tariffs from the conventional hydro- and thermal- power sources in the country.
Solar energy is being used with appropriate technology for cooking food, water heating, refrigeration, lighting, telecommunications, in households, offices, hotels, schools and other organizations in Uganda. At the fishing landing sites on Lake Albert, Victoria and other solar-powered lights are being used in fishing of silverfish (Mukene) because they are bright and have no noise to scare away fish.
More so, the countrywide presence of solar energy dealers like M-Kopa, MTN solar, Solar Now, SunKing Solar and another private sector SME’s in solar marketing and distribution businesses among others have greatly contributed to solar energy consumption in the country due to the frequent load-shedding and high costs incurred using national grid electricity promotes many households mainly upcountry to resort to solar energy which is relatively cheap, readily available and environmentally friendly.
So as to achieve more of the above I call upon the government to develop a solar energy policy that shall promote tax waivers on solar panels and the associated accessories such as batteries, solar bulbs.
The policy must ensure that credit schemes are extended towards the promotion on use and affordability of solar energy so as people can access the credit services to buy solar panel and accessories, at all levels the policy must ensure that both men and women are targets to capacity building regarding the use of improved solar energy technologies.
Private companies and NGO’s campaigning for clean energy such as solar energy must work extensively to extend solar energy across all regions in the country, Uganda’s quality and standardization (UNBS) body must ensure that genuine solar energy products and other accessories are the ones imported and put on the market, lastly despite Photovoltaic Pilot Project on Renewable Energy (UPPRE) a government project on solar energy Uganda, the policy must advocate for more projects balanced in all regions to enable the public access solar energy.
Complied by Sandra Atusinguza
AFIEGO Field - coordinator.
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