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Prepared by the Country Representative for Uganda Atuhaire Rodgers contact.


A renewable energy resource is one whose stock is not fixed and can be increased as well as decreased. The interest in new and renewable energy sources is relatively recent. The combined contribution of the new and renewable sources of energy to the total energy consumed in Uganda is estimated at 1 per cent. Except for biogas, these sources of energy have not been sufficiently explored to determine the best methods of harvesting them at sustainable levels. The new and renewable energy sources include - wind, biogas, solar, geothermal, liquid fuels and peat.

The availability of energy is an important determinant factor in Uganda's economic development, and measures for developing energy supply and managing demand need to be planned and implemented in order to prevent energy bottlenecks from restraining economic recovery.

Uganda's electricity supply is mainly hydro-based, currently dominated by one power plant, at the Owen Falls, with a capacity of 180 MW. An extension of 200 MW capacity to this plant is under construction. The first two units of 40MW each from the new plant were commissioned by mid-2000.

The power sector is currently under run by a vertically integrated public utility company, the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) that owns the Owen Falls generating facility, and the entire transmission and distribution network. Some two privately owned power plants (5 and 10 MW) are connected to the grid, selling excess power to UEDCL. The UEDCL transmission network is principally made up of 132 kV lines with one 66 kV line. The 33 kV and 11 kV lines constitute the distribution network.

The UEDCL monopoly is being broken by the enacted Electricity 1999 Act which liberalized the power sector by allowing participation of the private sector in all the activities of the Power Sector.

The size of Uganda's power sector is a reflection of economic stagnation, which the country experienced between 1971-1986. This brought the development of the power sector to a halt and deterioration the electricity supply infrastructure due to lack of maintenance.

However, there has been great economic revival over the last 15 years, exhibited by an average annual growth of 6%, which has created excess demand for power. At the moment, peak demand stands at about 280 MW, resulting in daily load shedding of about 100 MW.

Currently, only 5 % of Uganda's population of about 24 million is supplied with electricity. Around 20 % of the urban and less urban 1 % of the rural population is connected to the grid. This means that there are only about 150,000 grid electricity users. Uganda also has one of the lowest average per capita consumption of only 44 kWh/year.

The shortage of supply over demand has partly contributed to the low level of grid rural electrification. Of course the major factor barring extensive rural grid connection is the high uneconomical costs involved in such projects. This barrier has led to increased self-electrification in rural areas.

Recent studies carried out by Government with the assistance of the ESMAP/World Bank shows that self or private electrification using diesel generation, car batteries and solar PV systems is common in Uganda. It is estimated that of the 80 MW of privately installed captive electricity generation capacity (including stand-by generation in urban areas), about 30 MW is in the rural areas. It is estimated that there are over 200,000 households using car batteries.

Electricity from car batteries and Generators is 30 times more expensive than grid power at the current rate of Uganda Shillings 7/kWh for UEDCL power. The above facts, therefore, demonstrate that there is reasonable demand and willingness to pay for electricity services in the rural areas. Because of this recognition the Uganda Government is developing a comprehensive rural electrification programmed to bring this demand into the official supply loop using a number of innovative approaches, including supply from renewable energy sources on both a decentralized and grid-connected basis.

The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited has export contract obligations to neighboring countries as follows: Kenya (30 MW), Tanzania (9 MW) and Rwanda (5 MW). However, the 30 MW to Kenya is supplied only during off peak hours and only 9 and 5 MW exports go to Tanzania and Rwanda respectively. However, arrangements have been finalized for Uganda to export firm capacity of 50 MW to Kenya from 2006 after the commissioning of the Bujagali project.


Uganda has a rich renewable energy resource base. This includes solar, wind, Hydropower, Biomass and geothermal resources. However, modern production of energy from these resources is still very limited.


Uganda straddles the equator and has a very good average insulation of about 4 - 5 kWh/m²/day. Solar radiation has been used traditionally in the drying of crops and animal produce as well as other domestic purposes like drying of clothes.

Limited modern solar thermal applications are now available for crop drying, water heating and cooking. Solar photovoltaic (PV) applications have been increasing in Uganda since the late 1980s. These include electrification for rural households, health centers (especially vaccine refrigeration), community services (e.g. water pumping, schools, etc), and telecommunications.

There are currently several thousand solar home systems installed. However, large-scale adoption of PV electrification is hampered by the high cost of the systems.

Recognizing that PV technology is the available option for accessing electricity by the remote and dispersed populations in Uganda, Government has embarked on plans to remove market barriers, which include the high investment costs, lack of long-term finance to increase affordability, inadequate technical capabilities and low level of public awareness.


Geothermal resources have been identified in the Rift Valley region in Western Uganda. Some preliminary studies have been carried out in which a resource of about 450MW has been estimated.

There is however need to carry out detailed exploration to quantify the available resource capacity. Since the resource occurs in an agriculturally rich area, there is potential for using this resource for commercial food processing, using direct thermal energy and electric power.


Hydropower provides about 98 % of the country's utility power supply. The resource however contributes to less than 2 % of Uganda's total energy consumption. Uganda's hydrological resources are estimated to have a potential power production of over 2500 MW. The large hydropower sites (over 2000 MW) are mainly concentrated along the Nile River while sites for small hydro (0.5 - 5.0 MW) are scattered in many parts of the country.

This potential gives Uganda a comparative advantage over her neighbours in the East African region in the production of relatively cheap power. To-date less than 10 % (about 196 MW) of this potential is exploited. There is, therefore, considerable potential for further development.


Uganda has immense forest and agricultural resources that can be converted into electricity. As an agricultural country, Uganda generates a lot of agricultural residues and forest products, especially those derived from coffee and rice husks; municipal and animal waste; saw dust, wood stumps and wood chipping.

In fact, the major source of energy is biomass, which contributes over 90 % of total energy consumption and is largely used in traditional and non-commercial form. Every year, 20 million cubic meters of wood are consumed (destroyed) for cooking.

Therefore, biomass can provide substantial amounts of electricity, especially from co-generation by sugar industries, gasification from coffee processing industries and biogas from biodegradable wastes. Electricity so produced can be either connected to the grid or used to supply local demand in a mini-grid set-up.


Although the potential in this area has not yet been quantified, the Northeast region has fairly strong winds. Windmills have been installed in Karamoja for pumping water. This source of power can also be used for grain milling.

The average wind speed in Uganda is low - about 3.0 m/s. However, in more flat areas (e.g. Karamoja region of Northwestern Uganda), around the great lakes and hilltops in many parts of the country, the speeds may go as high as 6.0 m/s. This speed is adequate to run a wind turbine. The main application of wind energy so far has been mechanical water pumping, especially in Karamoja. There are several small wind turbines that have been installed in Uganda. However, most potential areas so far identified are far from demand centers and this has hampered commercial wind application. To harness the wind potential in Uganda therefore requires grid connection.



Wind-powered devices are a symbol of innovativeness and dynamics. They contribute to the attraction in the tourism industry, which stimulates the increase in economy and development.


Wind energy is Renewable, Clean and Native. We must not import energy because; it neither produces CO2 nor other pollutants. Now we must be installed with native wind energy, which is freely provided and renewed by nature.


Wind energy is diverse. The energy from wind-powered devices can be used in activities like water pumping. The use of wind energy and other renewable energy sources are decreasing the dependence on non-renewable energies and thus demand for renewable energy.


The wind energy technique is for the future. In research and planning wind energy is important. The equipment construction and it's the maintenance creates lasting jobs. It applies also here: Wind energy has future. «Because, it offered by nature for un-limited period and free of charge».


The production costs of wind stream for industrialized countries from 1980 to today drastically sank. The production of wind stream is already today more economical, than investing in other non-renewable energies. Because wind is naturally renewable and energy for the future, it should be a global power, which will reduce the production costs for developing countries like Uganda.


The wind power device installation is on the basis of regional planning, building, electricity installations enterprise and maintenance. When wind plants are installed they will increase more agricultural product produce in Remote areas and since it's where the wind potentials are located then it will lead to country's development and hence Regional profits as the end result. Wind energy is better for the east Africa development.


Wind energy is profitable. For example it is free and Natural. Industrialized countries are better with Renewable energy. Because with this renewable energy you do not have so much money to pay, so it's better for Uganda and East Africa in general since we are endowed with the renewable energy resources.


Uganda needs much energy as to its production installation and developments are necessary. So we must install renewable energy for example wind energy for an industrialized future.


The installation of wind energy plants corresponds to the will of a broad population. With this respect people of Uganda have always accepted to use renewable energies despite of the financial resources that are not available. Therefore with this respect they can be in position to allow the installation of the wind energy turbines and being in position to live in the proximity of a wind turbine. For its future goal is nothing else but development.

(Water pumps and others)
KENYA Wind 3 m/s 360 units
Solar 5.8 kWh/m²/day 3,600 kWp
1,450,000 improved stoves
UGANDA Wind 4 m/s 13 units
Solar 5 kWh/m²/day 152 kWp
52,000 improved stoves
TANZANIA Wind 2.5 - 4 m/s 58 units
Solar 4 - 8 kWh/m²/day 300 kWp
54,000 improved stoves
ETHIOPIA Wind 3.5 - 5.5 m/s 200 units
Solar 5 kWh/m²/day 1,200 kWp
45,000 improved stoves
SOURCES: - Karekezi and Ranja 1997; Ngeleja, 2000


Source: - New vision Wednesday, 11th May 2005

Thermal power providers Aggreko International Power Company fired the generators and started a 10 MW test run to supply the main grid.

The full capacity of the thermal plant at Lugogo will be 50 MW provided by 64 generators.

«11th May, they were in the testing mode. The 10 MW is to be provided by Wednesday», the Electricity Regulatory Authority's (ERA) spokesperson, Sarah Birungi said.

«All the 12 generators are going to be fired up. They are fully logged on.» Sources close to the plant said another 20 MW will come online in a week.


With increasing interest in sustainable sources of energy to address climate change issues, renewable energy should continue to grow in importance. Significant new contributions in energy supply are expected from hydroelectricity, biomass and wind energy in the medium and longer terms.


Africa's Renewable Energy Sustainability Guidelines

Prepared by Atuhaire Rodgers (read more about the InWEnt training)

Future Renewable energy demand in Africa will rise dramatically due to development desires and increased industrial needs. Coping up with this, demand will pose a serious challenge because of the economic and environmental constraints of the continent. Exploiting its vast renewable energy sources for this purpose will assist greatly, but financial and other barriers to the rapid growth of associated technologies are significant. This report explores measures that can be implemented to reduce these barriers. The analyses, which are based on lessons from experiences in and out of the region, show that replicating and enhancing current initiatives along with the implementation of suggested policy options could substantially increase the use of renewable energy technologies in Africa. Sustainable energy systems are widely seen as a desirable goal, but what constitutes such systems and how to make the transition from current practice to sustainable practice are more contested in Africa. Economic, technical, institutional and social obstacles are currently faced by Renewable energies like solar and wind power proponents. The latter are promoting their use in Africa because they believe; they have a role to play in Africa’s sustainable energy system. This report proposes that society can learn more about the introduction of ‘sustainable’ Wind energy technologies, which are a reflection of Africa’s future development. download full report (265 kB PDF) contact

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