Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has unveiled a plan that will apparently cost them an astounding sum of USD 250 billion, which, when converted to local currency, goes off the charts at approximately Shillings 930.881 trillion. This budget-busting extravaganza is projected to stretch across a mind-numbing 17 years.
The ‘Energy Policy for Uganda 2023’ extravaganza was staged at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, where it was hoped that the glittering chandeliers might distract from the astronomical price tag. The main aim of this spectacle is to chase the elusive dream of providing every Ugandan with access to energy that won’t break the bank or, well, the nation’s bank.
This brilliant policy aims to tackle a laundry list of issues in Uganda’s energy landscape, including the fact that it’s easier pigs to fly than for ordinary Ugandans to access affordable, modern energy services. Also, they plan to fix the little problem of electricity disappearing into thin air within the system, the unreliable power supply that’s often on vacation when you need it most, and the costs of getting connected that can make you consider taking up a hermit’s life in the mountains.
Irene Pauline Bateebe, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, earnestly pointed out that despite Uganda having more energy resources than it knows what to do with, especially hydro, biomass, and other renewables, your average Ugandan is still stuck in the dark ages. This seems ironic, given that households are the biggest energy consumers, next to industries, who are probably powering their time machines or something.
Bateebe wants you to know that this Energy Policy thing is a super big deal in Uganda’s quest for a greener, shinier energy mix. It’s all about making sure everyone gets a fair share of energy that won’t give them a heart attack when the bill arrives. This, apparently, will lead to both economic growth and saving the planet – all in one go.
Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), delivered a reality check, reminding us that Uganda’s economy is growing faster than a rocket-powered cheetah on roller skates. And with more people flocking to cities, everyone wants electricity like it’s the latest fashion trend. It turns out that Ugandans are gobbling up electricity at a rate of 8.2 percent every year. That’s about 125,000 new electricity addicts annually.
And in case you’re keeping score, Uganda’s power generation capacity has gone from “barely enough to light a bulb” to “we’re swimming in watts” – from 540MW in 2010 to a whopping 1,378.1MW by December 2022.
The ERA, in a rare display of confidence, called upon the folks responsible for making electricity, sending it on a trip across wires, and making sure it doesn’t run away, to work together. They have a crystal ball that predicts the nation’s energy demand will skyrocket to 7,664 GWh by 2027, with a peak demand of 1,250 MW. Yes, they’re planning to power something huge, like a city of spaceships.
Matthias Schauer, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, gave his nod of approval to this grand spectacle. Apparently, Germany, through the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), is handing out support for Uganda’s dream of having clean energy. They’re quite into sustainability, and they’re trying to help Uganda prevent climate change from crashing the party.
Denis Hamson Obua, the Government Chief Whip, showed up to officiate the event in place of Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja. He seemed thrilled that this Energy Policy thing could help Uganda build big stuff like a fancy train track, an oil refinery, and electric cars, all while giving Ugandans something to do besides staring at their blank computer screens.
Creating the Energy Policy for Uganda 2023 was like a massive group project involving government folks, district folks, private sector folks, school folks, and even the folks who like to shout about things in the streets. They all came together to make this energy dream come true.
This policy is Uganda’s way of saying, “We pinky swear to care about the planet and stuff.” It also involves plans for cool new energy things like solar panels that are mini and clean, industrial parks that are smart, grids that are smart too, and appliances that are so smart they might apply for a job someday.
As of December 2022, Uganda has plugged in about 57 percent of its people, with 19 percent using the official power lines and 38 percent going rogue with off-grid solutions. The country can flex its electricity muscles with a total installed capacity of 1,378.1MW, even though it doesn’t seem to remember where it put them most of the time.