25 February 2013

Uganda: Sh160 Billion for Free Power Connection in Rural Areas

The closest some rural folks have come to the national power grid is merely looking at electricity lines running over their houses. However, they will soon get connected as the Government is finalising plans to undertake a $60m (about 160.8b) project to do free connections for people with homesteads near power lines.

The three-year project will benefit millions of people across the country by boosting their standards of living, because electricity comes with enterprise development.

The programme will be implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) through its Energy for Rural Transformation (ERT) Output-based Aid project.

Godfrey Turyahikayo, the REA executive director, says the project is funded by the World Bank, the German government-owned development bank KFW and the Norwegian government. "The households that will have free connections are covered under the $20m World Bank and KFW funding," he said.

"The other group of beneficiaries under the $40m Norwegian funding are those living in places where we have just extended our electricity infrastructure, but people have no capacity to pay for connection. These new lines are in Gulu and Moyo, Adjumani, Kalungu. This group will be required to pay sh50,000. This is a highly subsidised rate" he said.

"Before the end of next month, the project will have kicked off. We have already signed an agreement with Umeme to effect the connections," he said.

Turyahikayo was speaking at the sidelines of a function held at Mbarara town last week to launch the Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES) operations in Uganda. The solar energy firm based in the Netherlands is in partnership with REA to boost rural electrification.

The FRES global president, Dr. Ann Marie, thanked the Government for supporting the rural population by partnering with her firm to deepen solar energy consumption in the country.

"We are operating in a number of African countries, but Uganda's demand for solar energy has been impressive with 1,000 connections made in just one year in only one region (western). This is a good start as we look up to 10,000 connections by 2017," she said.

The state minister for mineral development Peter Lokeris promised that the Government would make sure that the renewable energy policy is expedited to concretise the public private partnerships intended to enhance generation and access to affordable and efficient renewable energy to support rural development.

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