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Uganda Rural Electrification Agency Targets 2.5 Million New Connections by 2022

REA wants to extend power to 2.5 million people in upcountry areas

Solomon Tumwesigye, cost a resident of Kakigani, cialis 40mg Rwampara, pilule Mbarara District, has spent nearly his adult life without electricity.

Despite the presence of electricity poles in the trading centre, Tumwesigye has never felt the joy of ironing his clothes with a flat iron.

He has never seen his three kids use electricity bulbs for reading books.

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“I long for the day my house will get a pow

Tumwesigye rides a long distance to the trading centre to charge his phone or access the maize milling machine.

Tumwesigye’s status reflects the situation of over 25 million Ugandans who lack access to electricity.

Low access to electricity slows down growth and exerts pressure on the environment such as forests which are cut down for fire wood.

Ugandan government officials say this situation is fast changing, with hopes to deepen electricity penetration in rural areas to realise inclusive growth.

Groundbreaking Sheema; Commissioning Busende; Namayingo; Energy Exhibition Week

Groundbreaking Sheema; Commissioning Busende; Namayingo; Energy Exhibition Week

According to Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Executive Director, Godfrey Turyahikayo, a 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan for 2013-2022 (RESP 2013-2022) had projected that about 1.3 million households will be connected to the main grid by 2022.

This translates into about 130,000 connections per year and, therefore, 650,000 over a 5-year period.

This assumed that connections would be done in the usual manner.

However, REA had to align its targets with those of Vision 2040.

“In this respect, REA has projected a connection target of at least 500,000 connections per year, translating into 2.5 million connections over the next 5 years,” said Eng Turyahikayo.

He said this assumes two main happenings.

“Firstly, that the free connections policy will be passed by Cabinet soon and, secondly, that we shall get enough good will from our development partners and international  financial institutions to generate the necessary resources to enable the connections,” he adds in an interview with ChimpReports.

Uganda currently has 862 MW of installed electricity generation capacity.

To attain middle-income status by 2020, the NDP II has set targets for electricity access at 30 per cent and average consumption at 578 kWh per capita.

Currently, there are two large hydropower plants under construction that will be commissioned before 2020, that is, the 600 MW Karuma Project and the I83 MW Isimba project.

According to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), there are five small hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 36.3 MW that are under construction and expected to be commissioned by 2018.

The large and small projects combined will add a total of 819.3 MW of new capacity by 2020. But this generation needs transmission lines for extension of power to rural areas hence the relevance of REA.

To attain middle-income status by 2020, the NDP II has set targets for electricity access at 30 per cent and average consumption at 578 kWh per capita.

Off-grid

Turyahikayo said REA promotes off-grid solutions to augment the main grid solution.

“The off-grid solutions are mainly based on renewable energy sources, involving the deployment of a generation plant with its associated mini-grid to power a community, and stand-alone solar PV systems for homes and other single buildings in scattered settlements far away from the main grid,” said Turyahikayo.

The major sources of power are solar energy, micro-hydros and biomass.

He said a number of mini-grids using these sources are already in operation in various parts of the country and it is REA’s intention to escalate their deployment in the near future.

“They are being developed mainly on the basis of public-private partnership which involves joint investment by the private sector and Government. A major target currently is the collection of islands on Lake Victoria where a number of baseline studies and technical designs are ongoing and, already, there are a number of private sector interests expressed,” he added.

REA has put in place a number of initiatives which include Community schemes, Revolving fund, Densification/ intensification programme, Energy efficiency promotions and other cost reduction mechanisms, PVTMA, Connection Subsidies like Norad subsidy and OBA, Corporate social responsibility and Gender Mainstreaming.

Communities usually come together and contribute for power extension which is legible to those within a radius of one to two kilometres of an existing electricity network.

The procedures for benefiting under the community initiated scheme include self-mobilisation and sending an expression of interest to REA.

The community then pays 30 percent and REA pays 70 percent on the low voltage lines and has to be willing to contribute right of way towards rural electrification projects and endorse right of way in writing.

The Community also expresses a willingness to cost share with REA, and schemes are appraised for economic viability.

The Community must be within a radius of 1-2 km from an existing electricity grid; mobilise for surveys and costing of works and construction of schemes.

Rural electrification officials at work

Rural electrification officials at work

The Connection policy

The Connection policy has been drafted by REA and is expected to be operational after cabinet approval before mid this year.

The objective of the policy is to enable Ugandans to connect easily to the network once they have a no-pole service or are within a distance of one pole.

Most of the service providers will be provided with bulk materials for connection, procured by REA. On the other hand, Umeme will be required to pre-finance the connections and be reimbursed after connection verification.

Turyahikayo said a revolving fund is an initiative by REA which established a fund that can provide connection materials throughout the year to the concessions. The materials include meters, cables, circuit breakers and other connection accessories.

Government is required to do the sourcing of the funding to secure connection materials and provide to the utility which will then connect consumers and recover the cost of connection based on the approved rates by the regulator. The reimbursed money from the consumer is then reimbursed to REA.

REA also unveiled the densification/intensification programme, which targets potential consumers who are nearby an existing network but cannot immediately connect because they need at least one to six poles to get connection to the grid.

The initiative involves short extension of an existing network and adding transformers to the network.

The agency also rolled out energy efficiency promotions and other cost reduction mechanisms through public education and awareness, like exhibitions, media campaigns and through the Ministry of energy efficient bulbs have been distributed.

Turyahikaho said REA promotes alternative energy solutions and/or technologies for instance the low cost wiring solution-the ready board and use of prepayment metering system so that the consumers can better, manage their consumption.

Currently, there are two large hydropower plants under construction that will be commissioned before 2020, that is, the 600 MW Karuma Project and the I83 MW Isimba project.

According to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), there are five small hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 36.3 MW that are under construction and expected to be commissioned by 2018.

ERA boss Eng Godfrey Turyahikayo at the commissioning a rural line recently

ERA boss Eng Godfrey Turyahikayo at the commissioning a rural line recently

The large and small projects combined will add a total of 819.3 MW of new capacity by 2020. This, however, falls short of the NDP II target for electricity installed capacity by 819 MW.

According to UEGCL boss Harrison Mutekanga, this clearly shows there is still need to invest in more electricity generation facilities to close the deficit and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the next five years.

Subsidies

ChimpReports now understands that REA has been implementing the PVTMA, an initiative within the ERT programme that involves giving subsidies to consumers who wish to access energy through the solar technology but are outside the grid from a radius of 100m.

It involves working with several micro finance institutions which give solar loans. REA repays 30 percent of the loan while the consumer pays the remaining 70 percent.

Turyahikayo also observed that another connection initiative was the NORAD Subsidy by the Norwegian government which enabled REA increase access within the areas with NORAD funded projects.

“The target was for over 9,000 connections. It involved the connection subsidy, consumer awareness campaigns and building partnerships with wiremen for a uniform wiring cost,” he observed.

The output Based Aid (OBA) Campaign under ERTII and funded by the World Bank, the Global Partnership on Output Based Aid and KFW is another subsidy for consumers who cannot pay for connections within the first 18 months of the commissioning of a project.

Turyahikayo said this project aims at connecting 132,500 low income households (approximately 655,000 beneficiaries) to the main grid within a period of 4 years.

Public support

He said REA carries out CSR activities for communities within which it operates in order to gain community confidence and support for the project.

The agency supports several causes, school and community clubs, seminars on productive uses of energy and several other elements like tree planting etc.

In regard to Gender mainstreaming, REA said it have as a Gender Focal Team and its employ ratio stands at 55 percent women and 45 percent men.

Officials say of these 29 percent of women are at management level while 71percen are men at management.

At the construction stage, both women and men can benefit from local employment and mitigation planning.

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