Kampala — Energy ministry in partnership with Access Uganda Solar Limited has launched a 10MW solar power plant in Soroti District, aimed at increasing power access in the eastern district.
The power produced from the $19m (about Shs64b) solar power plant is expected to be added to the national grid in July and will power 40,000 homes and businesses in an area where electricity access is still very low.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in Soroti last week, State minister for Mineral Development Peter Lokeris said the country still faces energy challenges and yet industrialisation that the government seeks to expand requires more energy and investment.
"Government priorities such as Agro-processing can only get lifted off the ground with sufficient and reliable energy. I have confidence in the project because our country enjoys an all year round sunny climate which is the resource for solar power," Mr Lokeris said in a statement.
The project will also avail clean water to the surrounding communities by constructing two boreholes, six houses for teachers and provide solar power panels to public primary schools. Two thousand tree seedlings of orange, mango and pine trees will also be given to the neighbouring communities as part of afforestation programme.
Mr Reda El Chaar, the executive chairman, Access Power, said African governments need to be supported to avail power to their populations. He added that because of the need for power, the continent has attracted a $25b (Shs83.3 trillion) investment in renewables in the past six years.
The Soroti project is the first solar power plant to be successfully developed under the GET FiT scheme, in partnership with the government of Uganda through the Electricity Regulatory Agency.
The project is funded by the European Union Infrastructure Trust Fund, and supported by the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.
According to the statement, local labour is currently being hired for the construction phase and the developers will also recruit and train engineers to operate the plant.
Mr Christophe Fleurence, the vice president Business Development - Africa of EREN RE, said: "The extensive political and international support to this project underlines the broad willingness to shift boundaries in electricity generation."