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Engie Africa Brings Off-Grid Power To Over 4m People On The Continent

ENGIE Africa ha announce that it has successfully accelerated the Access to Energy (A2E) strategy that it launched in 2018.

ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner.

With these three innovative entities, ENGIE Africa is bringing decentralized electricity to more than four million people in nine countries (Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique). This growth is in line with the Group’s ambition to reach millions of households and businesses with clean, distributed energy across Africa.

Fenix, which was acquired by ENGIE in 2018, expanded its operations significantly in 2019. To date, it has sold more than 700,000 solar home systems that power 3.5 million people in rural communities across six countries.

Now employing 1,200 full-time team members, Fenix launched sales in Mozambique in June 2019. In the last month, the company has reached milestones in multiple markets, with 150,000 solar home systems sold in Zambia, 50,000 sold in Benin, and 20,000 sold in Côte d’Ivoire.

ENGIE complemented its range of solar home system solutions by finalizing the acquisition of Mobisol in October 2019. The higher capacity (40–200W) of ENGIE Mobisol’s products offers consumers access to modern energy services and appliances to establish solar-powered small businesses.

ENGIE Mobisol has operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, and has installed more than 150,000 solar home systems, providing clean and reliable energy to 750,000 people and counting in East Africa.

Mini-grid developer and operator ENGIE PowerCorner now has 13 mini-grids in operation across two countries (Tanzania and Zambia), serving 15,000 beneficiaries. It is constructing new mini-grids in Uganda (in joint venture with Equatorial Power), Benin and Nigeria, with the aim to triple its number of customers this year. ENGIE PowerCorner focuses on powering income-generating activities and productive usages, thus contributing to the increase of the economic welfare of its rural customers.

Fenix’s inclusive solar home systems for household usages, combined with ENGIE Mobisol’s focus on larger households and small business appliances, together with ENGIE PowerCorner’s focus on income-generating activities and small-scale industries, enables ENGIE to offer affordable energy products and to extend its customer base from rural to urban areas.

Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, says: “We strongly believe in the huge potential of the off-grid electrification sector and that it will be instrumental in rapidly and cost-effectively bridging energy gaps across Africa. We will build upon our successes to sustain and meet our long-term ambition of impacting tens of millions of lives across Africa. ENGIE has an important role to play in industrializing and scaling up the off-grid solar business. We are keen to offer the lowest cost and best quality Access to Energy solution that addresses our customers’ needs.”

ENGIE is expanding its offerings beyond electricity provision, integrating cost-effective and tailor-made solutions “as a service” to accompany customers every step of the way. This expansion links energy access to other products and services: internet, water, productive appliances, clean cooking, financial services and products.

Universal electrification is the seventh of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that the global community has committed to achieve by 2030. ENGIE is confident that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids.

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Rajiv Ruparelia Moves To Consolidate Motor Rally Fans

In any sport, relating with fans is big cornerstone for every sportsman; it adds values and empowers the man or woman in charge. Fans are the pillars of the sport you are participating in.

Well aware of this big catch, motor racing beginner, Rajiv Ruparelia of the Rajiv Ruparelia Team, is fast recognizing that to survive in the gruesome sport of motor racing, you need the backing of fans.

He is beginning to understand that success on the racing track is not enough to have a successful career in the sport. He is appreciating the fact that fans matter.

During the fifth round of Pearl of Africa Rally 2019 Rally in Kayunga, Rajiv and his team took off time from the racing track and interacted with fans, many of whom were issued with fans certificate.

This was looked at as a move to formalize a strong and dedicated fan base.

Rajiv Ruparelia Rally Team has had a successful motor rallying career after Rajiv came second in his maiden race Enduro Autocross Championship 2019 at Zion Estates in Ssisa but won his second race, the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) 2019 Autocross Championship on Sunday 23rd June in Kayunga.

Rajiv Ruparelia Rally Team nicknamed Double Trouble cruises in a VW Polo Proto imported from Poland. Rajiv is navigated by Ronnie Walia and managed by Dipu Ruparelia while Mike Mwangi is the Chief Mechanic.

In actual sense, Rajiv Ruparelia has not let success in his maiden two races get into his head but rather he is choosing to tread carefully as he integrates into the motor rallying fraternity of Uganda.

Uganda Turns Focus To Clean Energy Electricity Generation

The Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA), with support from USAID and Power Africa, hosted an off-grid solar exhibition, today, Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

More than 40 local and international solar companies showcased solutions for lighting off-grid homes, businesses, and public buildings, watching TV without having grid power, irrigating for greater harvests, and much more, at the side event, held alongside the Africa Energy Forum. 

This exhibition, according to Emmy Kimbowa, the Chairman of USEA; Uganda’s apex membership body for solar system companies, demonstrated the opportunity that solar systems present for the economic growth and transformation of Uganda.

While electricity generation capacity in Uganda currently is 870 MW and peak demand is 550 MW, approximately, demand is increasing at an average of ten percent each year. Electricity shortfalls are expected until more power generation facilities are brought online.

Further, as the bulk of grid electricity is generated through large hydropower (approximately 85%), the reliability of Uganda’ power supply is susceptible to drought, intermittent rainfall, and reduced river flow – all factors that are expected to become more acute with climate change.

The Government of Uganda is meeting this challenge head-on by targeting an increase in installed capacity to 2,500 MW by 2020. Furthermore, Uganda aims to achieve a more diversified energy mix by making greater use of other renewable sources including medium and small-scale hydropower, biomass, solar, and geothermal.

Power Africa Uganda Electricity Supply Accelerator (PAUESA), is a project that was launched at the exhibition, by the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac and Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development in the company of the UK High Commissioner Peter West.

Also referred to as The Accelerator, PAUESA is aligned both with Uganda’s objectives and the Power Africa Roadmap goal of increasing regional generation capacity by 30,000 MW and increasing connections by 60 million.

Its main objective is to facilitate the increase of clean energy electricity generation and electricity access among rural and urban communities in Uganda by working with clean energy generation and access.

With a population of about 34 million people, Uganda has one of the world’s lowest electrification rates even though Uganda has experienced an average economic growth rate of five percent per annum over the last ten years. In urban areas, while 55 percent of Ugandans have access to electricity, in rural areas, however, the electrification rate drops to 10 percent.

Only 5% (five percent) of the population is connected to the national grid, indicating that many of those who do have access to electricity are employing off-grid technologies such as distributed power and solar home systems to meet their energy needs.

Uganda’s per capita electricity consumption of 157 kilowatt hours (kWh) is considerably lower than the sub-Saharan Africa per capita average of 552 kWh and the global per capita average of 2,472 kWh. By 2020, Uganda aims to achieve a national electrification rate of 30 percent through new on- and off-grid connections, and to increase per capita consumption to 578 kWh.

Power Africa is a U.S. Government-led initiative launched in 2013 to expand electricity access and generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa by adding more than 30,000 megawatts and 60 million new home and business connections.

Energy Africa, a UK Government-led initiative has been working closely with other development partners and the Government of Uganda to support the growth of the off-grid solar market through the establishment of a suitable enabling environment.

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China’s ZTE Indicated In NITA-U Contract Blackmail

Uganda’s important National Backbone infrastructure (NBI) has attracted controversy after information emerged indicating that a Chinese company ZTE, is alleging that National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA U) and the Ministry of Information and Communication (ICT) are ‘colluding with the companies that built and maintain the national internet backbone to fleece Ugandans’.

Chinese ICT firm ZTE is interested in completing the project and according to sources is working hard to ‘disadvantage the rest of companies bidding for the final phase of the NBI which seeks to connect government departments with high speed interconnectivity.’

Quoting media reports, sources say ZTE accused President Museveni and NITA-U officials of signing ‘unfavourable internet provision contract with SolitonTelmec, a Kenyan company’. Allegedly, according to ZTE, the deal with Soliton was bad for the country.

‘In so doing, they are positioning themselves as the company which might offer the country a better deal, in the final phase of the NBI project.” A source told this website, adding that ZTE wants ‘government entity NITA-U to be denied its mandate and be offered to a telecom company which they can easily manipulate.’

The president recently said that as part of plans to revamp UTL, he wanted the government to start purchasing data service from the struggling telecom.

The president was told that for every Mbps of Internet delivered to any government agency through a cable owned by government through NITA-U, the Kenyan company Soliton charges NITA-U $200 (Shs725, 400) as transport charges.

But Nita-U strongly dismisses these allegations saying whoever makes such blatantly lies was unhappy about the recent contracts handed to other firms, but theirs.

Bidding Process

To win the right to work on the National Backbone infrastructure, ZTE will have to out-compete Huawei, Klawanchi Telecomm Camusat, Raubex and BCS & Fiber Home. Source intimate that Huawei, another Chinese ICT firm, has a more competitive bid; something that stands in the way of ZTE.

Online publishers Chimp Reports quoting a source this week reported that detractors have been recycling old lies to discredit Nita-U. However NITA-U says that during the pre-bid stage, all suppliers were invited to view the bid specification.

At this stage, NITA-U says that at this stage bidders were asked to register concerns with the bid process and stakeholder involved. No concern or complaint was registered paving way for the bidding process to continue.

NITA-U Communications Manager, Steven Kirenga says the authority didn’t handover any form of regulation of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) to any third party.

“NITA-U outsourced the management of the NBI to a managed services provider, SolitonTelmec, to manage the day to day operations to ensure that we provide a reliable and consistently ‘on’ service to our customers, Ministries, Departments and Local Governments,” said Kirenga.

NITA-U Responds

Government spends about Shs12bn on managing the infrastructure which the whistleblower says is a huge amount given the nature of task at hand.

Kirenga said the contractor’s scope of work goes beyond maintenance.

“The day to day operations include maintenance of all NBI equipment at MDA sites and transmission sites across the country i.e. Network equipment, Generators, air conditioners, CCTV, UPS, Inverters etc,” he said.

The contractor is required to maintain over 2,400kms of fibre, pay electricity bill for transmission sites and the main distribution center, make payments of fuel for generators and meet costs of health insurance and salary of staff.

Soliton also foots the bill of insurance of the Infrastructure; maintains vehicles and fibre network and all NBI equipment; and also run a network operating centre and help desk.

Uganda government did not seek to manage the network hence securing a service provider.

Kirenga says globally, the Managed Services model is the best practice and allows for institutions to benefit from shared value by having a Network partner take over the management and enhancement of highly evolved network process capabilities which leads to significant enhancement in the delivery of a superior Customer Experience.

“The assertion that NITA-U has overseen the financial loss of tax payer’s money is not true as the engagement of a managed service partner is an industry best practice. Reference can be made to banks and telecommunications companies where Business Process Outsourcing has been carried out as testimony to this being, indeed, best practice,” he observed.

Outsourcing is part of Government’s BPO program as outsourced parties provide employment to Ugandan citizens.

While NITA-U is providing high speed internet to Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the cost remains a contentious issue.

The whistleblower said in his/her report to President Museveni that Soliton charges NITA-U $200 per Mbps to a government ministries, departments and agencies.

Kirenga wondered: “Surely, on the face of it, if NITA-U charges $70 per Mbps to a ministry, how would it manage to pay $200 per Mbps for the same capacity to Soliton in transport charges? This is clearly not true.”

He said NITA-U remained committed to digitizing Uganda by reducing the cost of internet connectivity country.

“This effort has been deliberate and we are happy to have led the industry in reducing the cost of connectivity to Government offices by over 84 percent since 2010, when 1Mbps cost a government office $1200 to the current cost of $70 for 1Mbps.”

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