Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Albertine Graben Should Transit To Clean And Affordable Sustainable Renewable Energy

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.

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Bagyenda Lied About Not Having Minutes Of Meeting With Kirkland Lawyers

Justine Bagyenda's claim that Bank of Uganda kept no minutes of meeting that resulted into the closure of three commercial banks has been trashed by a layer from J.N Kirkland and Associates called Kakembo Katende. Bank of Uganda hired the law firm in 2007 as transactional advisors and to implement an exit strategy for three banks. 

Kakembo told parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises (COSASE) which is investigating the improper sale and closure of seven commercial banks that the central bank took minutes every time they engaged them on the closure of the banks.  

The three commercial banks in question are International Credit Bank, Cooperative Bank and Greenland Bank. These are just part of the seven commercial banks which went down under the wrath of the central bank since 1993; the latest being Crane Bank which was taken over by the central in 2016 and later controversially sold to DFCU Bank in 2017.

An audit by the auditor general highlighted irregularities in the closure of these seven bank recommending that parliament's cosase investigates and brings Bank of Uganda to book.

Kakembo told a cosase probe meeting chaired by Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among that all the time they attended meetings at BoU in the supervision department, there was an attendance book which they had to sign, always.

"The people from BoU were the recordkeepers of those discussions. I do not have minutes, but we recorded our appearances and most of these meetings were chaired by Bagyenda," Kakembo told cosase.

Beatrice Anywar then asked Dr. Tumubwine Twinemanzi, who replaced as executive director supervision, whether they had the said minutes of the engagements with Kirkland Advocates, Twinemanzi referred the question to Bagyenda to which Bagyenda said: "My memory cannot serve me right on that. Madam Chair, that was 2007 and we are in 2019, i cannot recall."

Renewable Energy Most Competitive Source of New Power Generation

Renewable energy is the most competitive form of power generation in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to a new report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Abundant resources, together with strong enabling frameworks have led to solar PV prices of below 3 cents per kilowatt hour and dispatchable concentrated solar power (CSP) of 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is less than some utilities in the region pay for natural gas. 

IRENA's new 'Renewable Energy Market Analysis: GCC 2019' launched during Abu Dhabi Sustainabilty Week, says achieving stated 2030 targets can bring significant economic benefits to the region including the creation of more than 220 000 new jobs whilst saving over 354 million barrels of oil equivalent (MBOE) in regional power sectors.

The targets could reduce the power sector's carbon dioxide emissions by 136 million tonnes (22 per cent reduction), while cutting water withdrawals in the power sector by 11.5 trillion litres (17 per cent reduction) in 2020. 

The findings come as GCC economies seek to diversify their economies against the backdrop of fast-growing domestic energy demand and a desire to safeguard hydrocarbon export revenues for the future. 

"The GCC is among the most attractive regions in the world to develop large-scale solar and wind energy projects as a result of resource abundance and a favourable policy environment, a fact that is backed up by record low prices," said IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin.

"As a fossil-fuel exporting region, the GCC's decisive move towards a renewable energy future is a signal to global investors and to the energy community that we are experiencing a step-change in global energy dynamics and a true energy transformation."  

"The UAE's commitment to diversifying the energy mix is central to our long-term economic growth and sustainable development objectives," said H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy. "IRENA's GCC analysis provides further evidence of the strong socio-economic case for renewable energy deployment, from job creation to emission reductions.

As we look to add generation capacity to serve growing populations and expanding economies, renewables will increasingly serve as central pillar of low-carbon development." 

At the end of 2017, the region had some 146 GW of installed power capacity, of which renewable energy accounted for 867 megawatts. Around 68 per cent this capacity was in the UAE. This represents a four-fold increase on capacity in 2014. Following the UAE are Saudi Arabia with 16 per cent and Kuwait with nine per cent of regional capacity.  

With renewable energy targets now in place across the region, the GCC is poised for a significant acceleration in renewables deployment as countries pursue national goals. Under current plans, the region  will install a total of almost 7 gigawatts (GW) new power generation capacity from renewable sources by the early 2020s. 

Solar PV dominates the region's renewables outlook, accounting for three-quarters of the regional project pipeline, CSP and wind accout for 10 per cent and nine per cent respectively. Solar-assisted enhanced oil recovery in Oman is also expected to contribute about 1 gigawatt-thermal (GWth) in 2019. 

Proactive policies are central to accelerating renewable energy deployment, per the report, suggesting that lessons can be drawn from the GCC countries where substantial inroads have been made thanks to firm government commitments and credible, time-bound targets with a clear focus on a supportive business environment for investments.


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More Trouble For BoU As FDC, Kadaga Agree To Let Katuntu Finish COSASE Banks Probe

Bank of Uganda will continue to face the wrath of Abdu Katuntu and his colleagues with whom they make up the parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).

This comes after the speaker of parliament Alitwala Rebecca Kadaga and leading opposition political party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) reaching an agreement on Tuesday to let Katuntu lead the committee as chair.

The FDC’s had earlier objected to the extension of Katuntu’s tenure after it expired on January 13, 2019 yet Speaker wanted it extended to allow the old leadership complete Bank of Uganda (BoU) probe over the controversial closure of seven defunct banks.

Katuntu was late last year replaced by FDC with Kawempe South MP, Mubarak Munyagwa and deputized by Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante. However Katuntu and Kadaga didn’t yield to the pressure from the opposition politicians going on to chair the only cosase-BoU probe meeting last week.

Leader of Opposition, Betty Aol told journalists that the two sides had come to an agreement and the meeting scheduled between COSASE and former owners of closed banks was to go ahead, which hinted at the fact that Katuntu was to continue with the probe.

“We have finished our dialogue and speaker will be the one to make the pronouncements. We tried to explore a lot of options so the best option will be announced by her on the floor of Parliament in the plenary, I believe it will be tomorrow because today, she has also been busy and we have also been busy in Commission’s meeting,” Aol said.

She however remained tight lipped on details of the meeting asking journalists to wait until Wednesday afternoon when Speaker would make the official announcement.

Sources privy to the discussions of the meeting showed that the two sides agreed to have the Katuntu team carry on the Bank of Uganda probe until the 15th  February as opposed to the 20th  February 2019 that had been earlier announced late last year by the Speaker.

COSASE is investigating the alleged improper closure of seven commercial banks by Bank of Uganda between 1993 and 2017 following a recommendation by the auditor general in a report after he found irregularities in the banking sector attributed to mismanagement at the central bank.

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