Business

Rural Electrification: Powering West Nile’s Economy

Bee Keeping is among the major economic activities in West Nile. Extension of electricity will help in value addition to the raw products

“Africa has lagged behind in terms of development because of not concentrating on the building of infrastructure such as roads and electricity among others,” President Yoweri Museveni observed during a lecture to Army Officers at the Jinja-based Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College recently.

The same statements have been said about Uganda by both local entrepreneurs and the international community.

Uganda, a country whose economy largely depends on Agricultural production, development of infrastructure is key in value addition to the products to boost export revenues.

In an effort to extend such services to the rural areas, government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has rolled out several projects that will see power lines extended to different areas across the country.

REA has gone ahead to lobby for support and funding from international donors and funders to see the plan become a success.

In 2013, a 10-year strategic plan was launched targeting to have 1.3 million households in rural underserved areas connected to the main grid by 2022.

The plan has been implemented over time with different regions getting connected and the latest being West Nile region.

Government has already secured funds for the West Nile project and intends to extend 345.8 Km of Power Lines to the region.

The project, funded by the World Bank, will see construction of 304.3 km of medium voltage and 82 transformers, being fed from Arua- Koboko – Yumbe line at either Yumbe or Wandi.

Another power line will move through Onduparaka, Odrmachaku and Abiria, covering 41.5 km of medium voltage and 16 transformers; being supplied from the Arua – Koboko – Yumbe line at Onduparaka.

Boosting Economic Activity

West Nile region is made up of the districts of Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Nebbi, Yumbe and Zombo.

The main economic activities in the region include Agriculture (mainly for subsistence), Fishing on Lake Albert and Albert Nile and Bee Keeping.

The main crops grown in the area include Beans, Maize, Millet, Simsim, Mangoes, Avocado, Cassava, Matooke, Flowers, Tobacco, Groundnuts.

Until recently, Tobacco was the leading income earning cash crop in the area although only raw materials would be sold.

The extension of power lines in the area will boost incomes through value addition to the products.

Honey is steadily replacing tobacco as a leading income stream, with a ready international market.

Piggery is also on the increase in the region.

Increasing electricity access in the West Nile Region will lead to improved delivery of social services, including health, education, telecommunication, and reduced costs of public administration

It will also create employment during construction reduce carbon emissions, hence improved health.

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