The State Minister for Energy, Sidronius Okaasai Opolot has urged Ugandans and the business community to embrace the usage of renewable energy because it’s one of the keys to Uganda’s socio-economic transformation.
While delivering his speech during the Renewable Energy Conference on Thursday at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Minister Okaasai said Uganda is blessed with abundant renewable energy sources and they must be fully utilized.
He added that the estimated renewable energy potential presents enormous opportunities for private investment but also Public-Private Partnerships. Currently, the country has an estimated 4500 MW from hydro, 1500 MW from geothermal, 5000 MW from solar and 1700 MW from biomass.
Hon. Okaasai also revealed that in order to ensure harmonized planning of Uganda’s renewable resources, Uganda has partnered with a number of entities such as the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which is spearheading the discussion of energy transition towards renewable energy.
“The energy transition agenda is key in mitigating environmental concerns. Therefore, as part of its endeavours to promote renewable energies, the ministry recently gazettes the biofuels regulations that will support the implementation of the Biofuels Act of 2018. The government has also put in place mechanisms of reducing the high dependence on biomass for cooking through the promotion of clean cooking technologies. Innovative ideas to help the communities to reduce the high dependence on biomass for cooking will be welcomed and supported by the Ministry,” he said.
The Minister assured that the government is to continue to build local capacity and increase skilled manpower to innovate, manufacture, operate, repair and maintain energy systems so as to enhance the adoption of clean energy options.
“Government will work with several other partners to develop flexible financing options to enable access to financing that is affordable to support the deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies,” he said.
“It is very important to support renewable energy businesses to grow and compete on the global scale. The government, therefore, established the Uganda Energy Credit Capitalization Company (UECCC) to support the credit facilities for renewable energy businesses.”
Okaasai also noted renewable energy currently comprises the greatest percentage (over 90 per cent) of the country’s energy mix. Therefore, the government shall continue to give it due attention and make it available to the population.
“As the world transitions to renewable energy, Uganda is already ahead in the transition agenda. The government has put in place an enabling environment for investment in renewable energy. We, therefore, encourage the international and local private sector to take advantage of these investment opportunities.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Engineer Ziria Tibalwa Waako said, the authority is currently working on a framework for private investment into power transmission, to operationalize the Electricity (Amended) Act, 2022.
Speaking about the Electricity Act (Amended) 2022, Waako clarified on the Policy Level, noting that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MOEMD) is now the majority shareholder of Government Power Generating Companies which include; Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL).
“The majority and sole shareholder was the Ministry of Finance, so, the ownership resided in a different ministry and the monitoring, evaluation and enforcement of performance was residing in another ministry. However, with this amendment, the MOEMD can, at short notice, summon any Board of these utilities to check performance, to give directives, to ensure that the consumer who pays their cheque is able to obtain value for money in a timely manner,” Waako said.
She added that “This is a big takeaway for the sector, but most importantly for the consumer, and we hope this is going to improve efficiency and effectiveness within the electricity supply industry.”
She added that the amendment comes with an establishment of a dedicated department within the MOEMD in charge of planning across the entire value chain.
“Issues of uncoordinated implementation, planning, delivery of services where you have generation plants commissioned without evacuation lines, where you have transmission facilities commissioned without outgoing feeders at the distribution levels to be able to reach the last man, those issues are going to be of history.”
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja who was the keynote speaker also re-echoed Minister Okaasai and Engineer Ziria’s call and said Uganda is endowed with vast energy sources which are dominated by renewable energy potential in the form of hydropower, biomass, geothermal, solar, hydrogen and wind energy. In addition, the country has other potential sustainable energy resources including nuclear energy which is critical in the energy mix.
She however cautioned that as the country is perusing renewable energy, the aspect of the environment and climate change must be considered.