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High costs hinder renewable energy adoption

High costs hinder renewable energy adoption

A public dialogue held at MUBS on renewable energy (Courtesy photo)

In a bid to address Uganda’s multidimensional energy poverty, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) and Oxfam Uganda have joined forces to promote renewable energy solutions. The partnership, unveiled during a public dialogue hosted at Makerere University Business School (MUBS), emphasizes leveraging academic research and expertise to propel the renewable energy campaign across the country.

CSBAG Executive Director Julius Mukunda emphasized the crucial role of academic institutions, citing MUBS’s Energy Economics program as a valuable resource for strengthening and advancing policies.

Highlighting the pressing need for a shift from traditional cooking methods involving charcoal and firewood to renewable alternatives such as Biomass, Solar, Wind, and Natural Gas, Mukunda underscored the detrimental impact of deforestation on Uganda’s environment.

He linked the country’s reliance on charcoal and firewood to the high cost of electricity, urging stakeholders to embrace cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

Key findings from CSBAG’s research:

  • Ugandans are multidimensionally energy poor, with 33% experiencing severe energy poverty.
  • The average energy deprivation score is 51%.
  • 96% of Ugandan households rely on wood fuel for cooking, with women in female-headed households spending approximately 7.5 hours a day on cooking activities.

CSBAG’s recommendations for boosting renewable energy:

  1. Decentralize energy functions to local governments.
  2. Prioritize funding for renewable energy alternatives.
  3. Reduce electricity tariffs to make electricity more accessible, especially for the poor, manufacturing sector, and female-headed households.
  4. Establish a solar fund targeting poor and vulnerable communities.
  5. Support awareness programs on renewable energy in rural communities.
  6. Transfer subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies, such as solar energy.
  7. Expedite the formulation of a solar energy policy, addressing pro-poor solar energy concerns.

Partnership with MUBS

Mukunda highlighted the importance of using academia to advance advocacy work, emphasizing the need to groom individuals who can champion the cause of renewable energy. As part of the collaboration, CSBAG will mentor MUBS students in Public Financing, preparing them for future employment opportunities in both private and public sectors.

Academic contributions

Professor Moses Muhwezi, MUBS Principal, stressed the interconnectedness of environmental protection and human well-being.

He encouraged students to engage with government environmental data and conduct research on climate change, positioning universities as agents of positive change.

Challenges and Opportunities: Magara Siragi Luyuna, the Energy and Extractive Industries Coordinator at Oxfam Uganda, advocated for increased budget allocation for renewable energy generation.

Challenges identified during panel discussions included the scarcity of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, high electricity costs, and limited access to renewable energy in various regions.

Uganda’s current energy landscape

  • Only 42% of the population has access to electricity.
  • In 2020, less than 50% of Ugandans utilized solar energy.
  • Hydropower constitutes 84% of the total electricity capacity.

In conclusion, the CSBAG and MUBS partnership signifies a collaborative effort to address Uganda’s energy challenges and promote the widespread adoption of renewable energy, aligning with global sustainability goals. The findings and recommendations underscore the urgency of implementing effective policies to transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources in Uganda.

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