Europe issues sh46b loan to expand Uganda’s solar coverage

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The funding will go a long way in solving the last mile challenge to provide power in remote communities across Uganda where just one in five Ugandans living in remote and rural communities has access to reliable electricity.

The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide a $12.5m (sh45.9b) loan to support the deployment of 240,000 high-quality solar home systems in Uganda by Fenix International, a subsidiary of France based electric utility – ENGIE. 

The funding will go a long way in solving the last mile challenge to provide power in remote communities across Uganda where just one in five Ugandans living in remote and rural communities has access to reliable electricity, a statement circulated by the APO Group said.

They pointed out that by scaling up the adoption of off-grid solar technology, this new initiative will provide economic, social, education and health opportunities for families and entrepreneurs who cannot be connected to the national electricity network.

Attilio Pacifici, European Union Ambassador to Uganda said the deal will benefit entrepreneurs and smallholders across Uganda who will be able to access electricity for mobile phones, solar lighting, refrigeration, radio and television.

He said this will help farmers to sell produce, create new markets for traders and improve the health of women and girls by cutting exposure to indoor pollution from current kerosene use for lighting. The initiative will benefit an estimated 1.4 million Ugandans.

“The European Union is committed to supporting sustainable economic and social development across Uganda. Harnessing renewable energy through innovative off-grid solar technology, combined with productive uses of power in rural areas, is a direct demonstration of the European Union’s green deal for Africa, providing new opportunities for millions of Ugandans,” he said.

Daniel Willette, Managing Director Uganda (Fenix) noted that the European Investment Bank financing will allow repayment of equipment purchased in US dollars in Ugandan shillings.

He said that hitherto, currency fluctuations had hindered the provision of affordable clean energy solutions to Ugandans without access to foreign currency. The firm has set up a PAYGO model which cuts upfront costs of solar home systems by enabling repayment over years at less than $20 cents (about sh734.72) a day.

“Providing hundreds of thousands of new solar home systems through the PAYGO model will allow our Ugandan team to transform communities across the country. We will work tirelessly to illuminate homes and provide clean power until all of Uganda can access electricity,” Willette said.

Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President pointed out that improving access to affordable and clean energy is important to fight poverty, create jobs and empower women and girls.

“Unlocking sustainable economic and social development through off-grid solar is key for Africa’s future and the EIB is pleased to back this project in Uganda.,” he said.

Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa said that there is massive potential for off-grid electrification on the continent to bridge energy gaps faster and more affordably.

“Providing access to energy in Africa is a huge undertaking but I firmly believe that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids,” he said.

Original Post: New Vision