Last week, the UK DFID committed to support Uganda in its quest to access clean, reliable, and affordable energy. The agreement which was signed and termed as the Energy Compact is geared towards assisting the East African country to improve its energy access. As East Africa is on the edge of development, there are over 30 million, or four out of every five people in Uganda who do not have electricity. It is essential for the country to increase its energy availability to enhance production and development. In the remarks of the head of the Department for International Development (DFID) Uganda office – Jennie Barugh, at the signing event, she mentioned that alleviating energy poverty will enhance productivity, create jobs, improve livelihoods, enhance the capacity of the state to provide basic services to its people, and directly affects the health and education sector. Additionally, availability of electricity reduces the disproportionate impacts of education and health on women and girls in the absence of electricity.
As the world is steering towards a cleaner future, the UK government is not only looking to provide energy solution but improve access and innovation in the solar energy market in the country to maximize the availability of energy for all. Jennie Barugh mentioned that access to solar power will save people and businesses money on expensive forms of energy and reduce the time women and girls spend gathering fuel to burn.
The agreement was signed between UK government and the Government of Uganda by the head of the Department for International Development (DFID) Uganda office – Jennie Barugh, and the Permanent Secretary at the Ugandan Ministry for Energy and Mineral Development – Dr. Stephen Isabalija.
In a statement made by Dr. Stephen Isabalija during the event, he indicated that the Energy Compact is also designed to map the strategic areas to be addressed to accelerate the adoption of solar home and institutional lighting systems to achieve 100 per cent electrification by 2030. The country has already enabled an environment which allows solar business to flourish: such as, VAT exemption on major solar components, support for private sector solar companies, and provision of solar end-user subsidies, capacity building through training of technicians and knowledge and establishing solar financing models. Through this new Energy Compact agreement with the DFID, Uganda expects to strengthen their solar sector even better through collaboration with other Development Partners.
Since the UK voted to leave the European Union, it has shown commendable interest in developing East African countries. In October this year, when Priti Patel (International Development Secretary) visited Kenya, she said that as the UK redefine their place in the world following the EU Referendum, it is vital that the UK deepens existing relationships with African countries and establishes new trade, investment and economic links that deliver in their national interests, by bringing new opportunities for British businesses and creating their trading partners of the future. With the Energy Compact following that, it is hopeful that brexit might mean more to East African countries as UK strengthens its allies.