Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Universal renewable energy possible in Uganda by 2050

    Pauline Okoth

    26/01/16

Speed read

  • About 90 per cent of Ugandans use unclean biomass energy sources

  • A report says renewable energy could meet all of Uganda’s energy needs by 2050

  • An expert calls for adequate investments in energy-efficient technologies

[KAMPALA] Uganda could attain universal renewable energy coverage by 2050 because the country is endowed with immense potential energy sources such as wind, biomass and the sun, says a report.

According to the report, more than 90 per cent of Ugandans rely on unclean biomass energy sources such as firewood and inefficient technologies including three-stone firewood stoves.

The report was published by the Uganda office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and was released during the climate change conference held in Paris, France on 30 November-12 December.

“There is need for developed countries to make firm commitments and adequate support to the Green Climate Fund.”

Ephraim Kamuntu, Ministry for Water and Environment, Uganda


Researchers analysed studies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Ugandan government publications on energy, and used a software for energy policy analysis to estimate the country’s energy scenario for 2050, with2010 as a baseline year.

The findings show that by adopting renewable energy, Uganda can gain immense benefits such as enhanced quality of life, minimising pollution-related health problems, improving household income by cutting wasteful energy expenditures and aiding children’s education with access to clean light for studying.

Ibrahim Mutebi, WWF renewable energy manager, tellsSciDev.Net that researchers obtained some of the data through consultative meetings with energy and environmental experts in Uganda.

The report calls for Uganda to modernise the use of biomass energy, expand its clean grid-based electricity, encourage development of off-grid electricity infrastructure and build an energy-efficient transport sector.

The report indicates the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of renewable energy. “By reducing the use of unsustainable wood and moving towards a more efficient system relying on higher value fuels, the renewable energy scenario in Uganda could save up to US$12.4 billion in 2050,” the report explains.

It sets out a roadmap that would enable the country achieve universal renewable energy use by 2050.

Isaiah Owiunji, energy and climate program coordinator of WWF Uganda, attributes the challenge of transitioning from unclean and inefficient technology to clean and efficient renewable energy to low investment in energy-efficient technologies.

Modernising the biomass energy sector by investing in energy-efficient technologies, Owiunji, elaborates, could reduce Uganda’s annual biomass harvest from 44 to 26 million tonnes, translating into reduced deforestation.

Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s minister for water and environment, urged developed countries to ensure that critical issues such as the scaling up of climate financing to developing nations are addressed in the climate change agreement.

“There is need for developed countries to make firm commitments and adequate support to the Green Climate Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund and address the special needs of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, Uganda inclusive,” Kamuntu explained.

Uganda’s energy policy, a document produced by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, aspires to diversify clean energy sources through strategies such as adopting energy regulatory measures that facilitate investment in rural energy projects, exploring schemes to enable consumers buy relevant appliances, intensifying consumer awareness of energy conservation and partnering with financial institutions to establish sustainable energy financing.

Benazir Omotto-Douglas, the programme manager for knowledge management at the Kenya-based Umande Trust, tells SciDev.Net that there are currently many renewable energy interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. “However, there is very little investment in research across different entities including non-governmental organisations and governments,” says Omotto-Douglas, adding that simplified, action-oriented communication targeting school children is also a priority investment gap.

Owiunji adds that even poor households can prioritise investment in clean energy technologies provided they are enlightened on the benefits.
 
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.