Kasese and Rubirizi districts have received six hybrid solar-powered mini-grid systems worth over 4.8 million Euros (about Shillings 20 billion).
The solar plants were installed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in collaboration with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), and World-Wide Fund for Nature-WWF, the European Union-EU, and co-funding from the Uganda government and other development partners.
Mini-grids are designed to scale rural electrification using the solar system model and distribution.
David Duli, the WWF country director, says that the mini-grid project covers 20 districts in the Albertine rift.
He explains that the area has the highest number of endemic species and a high diversity of eco-systems that need protection from environmental degradation.
Duli says about 5.3 million households in Uganda especially in rural communities don’t have access to electricity due to supply gaps, affordability, and nature of the settlement.
He says that the six systems have a total capacity of 170.626 KWs with the potential to benefit an estimated 1,800 households and 250 businesses.
Duli notes that the mini-grid project has already connected 791 households and 250 businesses in the two districts.
Benon Bena, the manager off-grid renewable energy at REA, says that under the project, government provided money to acquire land for the five sites installation.
Kazinga site was offered for free by the local community.
Both the generation and distribution works will be leased to Sage wood limited to do the operation and maintenance.
Bena also said this project is part of the government’s rural electrification program to improve access to clean and safe energy.
Jesus Gavilan Marin, the Energy Programme Officer at the EU Delegation in Uganda, says that the project is part of their commitment in the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow towards eliminating and combating climate change challenges, global warming, and its negative impacts.
Marin says the EU is committed to supporting Uganda in innovations meant to mitigate climate change.
The State Minister of Mineral Development, Peter Lokeris said the ministry is considering mini-grids powered by renewable energy resources to improve the productivity of rural areas. He called on the rural communities to offer maximum security to the sites.
Eliphaz Muhindo, the LC V Chairperson Kasese district wants the development partners and government to expand this project to other communities and institutions in hard-to-reach areas that are out of the main power supply in the district.
Joel Masereka, the Buhahura HC III in charge, says that the connection has improved health service provision at the facility.
Masereka says their laboratory and immunization services and general environment have since improved.