Project RISE advises Ugandan government on designing its National Energy Policy
Following the workshop in Zambia last November, Project RISE held its second interactive stakeholder workshop on December 10th, 2019 in Kampala, Uganda. More than 50 senior energy sector stakeholders from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Electricity Regulatory Authority, and Rural Electrification Agency as well as mini-grid businesses, district government representatives, industry and non-governmental organization experts, donors, and academia came together to discuss the way forward for off-grid energy in Uganda.
Currently, rural communities have high unmet energy needs beyond basic services and they demand electricity-enabled services to overcome frustrations they experience in their work life, in their households, and when trying to access good quality public services. As a result of this workshop, three main points were recommended to address this issue.
1. Business model innovation cross-subsidies tariffs via productive use - To overcome the challenge of high cost of reliable electricity, mini-grid developers in Uganda are engaging in a new business model we call Integrated Development: They integrate into rural value chains and use the higher profitability of a kWh used for productive means to make their operations profitable and reduce tariffs for households. Local business incubation, a diverse set of partnerships and public sector support from the Ministry, REA, ERA and donors are key in moving this solution forward.
2. Energy policy focus on how to turn energy access into impact - The public sector is largely governed by chasing top-down electrification rate targets. Yet concentrated efforts are essential to turn a connection into sustained social and economic improvements for people. Upfront costs for productive appliances are high, while entrepreneurial skill levels are low. Actions such as developing measurable targets on development outcomes and increasing interactions between ministries are required.
3. Closer involvement of district-level governments - Local-level governments are ideally placed to understand specific needs in their constituencies, implement governmental energy-enabled development policies and feedback electricity demand projections to improve centralised planning models. Improving means and frequency of sharing information between central and district governments and supporting pro-activeness from communal leaders were proposed to utilise these opportunities.