BY INNOCENT KIIZA
In the heart of Kasese District, a quiet revolution is taking place, one that is quietly but profoundly changing the lives of its residents. It’s a story of mothers, fathers, and children who have found a brighter and cleaner way of living through the power of renewable energy. As the sun bathes the region in its golden rays, individuals like Juliet Musoki, Assimwa Rosset, and Janerian Kule are reaping the benefits of this energy transformation, all thanks to solar panels.
Juliet Musoki, a mother of three, resides in Bikone Sub County in Busongora North – Kasese District. She has embraced solar energy by placing solar panels in the sun each day to harness its empowering energy. This energy illuminates her sitting room and bedroom, providing light in the evening and reducing her reliance on costly paraffin. With solar energy, her life has become easier, and she’s been able to save money she once spent on paraffin for lamps. However, she still uses firewood for cooking, a common practice in the region.
Assimwa Rosset, a mother of five, shares a similar story. She testifies to the transformative power of solar energy, especially for her children. In the past, they had to study by the dim light of a kerosene lamp, enduring the discomfort and health risks of inhaling smoke. But now, with solar panels providing clean and reliable light, her children can study at any time in a healthier environment.
Janerian Kule expresses his gratitude for the positive impact of solar energy on his family. Solar power has significantly improved the lighting in his home, and the absence of lamps burning paraffin has eliminated the smoke that once filled his house, leading to a healthier living environment. When asked why he doesn’t switch to conventional electricity, he states that it is more expensive compared to solar energy, making the choice clear.
To combat the use of fossil fuels in the district, Kilembe Investment Limited is leading the way in promoting renewable solar energy and extending electricity distribution to hard-to-reach areas. This forward-thinking company is planning to establish mini-grids within Kasese and Rubrizi districts. A feasibility study is underway, and Kasese district has generously agreed to donate 50 hectares of land to support the development of these renewable energy initiatives.
Jane Burungi Masika, the CEO of Kilembe Investment Limited, states that they are actively studying the viability of wind and solar energy in Kasese and Rubrizi districts. They are collaborating with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and other partners to determine the most cost-effective and favorable energy source between wind and solar. The goal is to choose the option that will best benefit the community.
The upcoming 10-megawatt solar panel plant is expected to be established on the district land provided by Kasese district as part of a partnership worth 50 hectares. This initiative aligns with the renewable energy strategy implemented by Kasese district in 2012, funded by the World Wide Fund (WWF). The strategy aims to transition every home from using lamps powered by fossil fuels like paraffin to solar energy, not only to conserve nature but also to combat the effects of climate change and protect the green cover.
The renewable energy strategy also addresses the issue of carbon energy usage, which is contributing to the melting of glaciers on the Rwenzori Mountain. The transition from fossil fuel-based lamps and paraffin to solar panels is seen as a crucial step in mitigating these effects on the environment.
Hon. Opolot Okasai, the State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, commends Kilembe Investment for its efforts in solar thermo energy. He emphasizes the government’s commitment to reducing the use of fossil fuels like paraffin and biogas emissions, which produce carbon gases harmful to the atmosphere. During the commissioning of the Katooke power line, a 132-kilovoltage line connecting power to 13 villages, Okasai states that the government aims to connect every household to electricity by 2030 through public-private partnerships with companies like Kilembe Investment.
The 132-kilovoltage powerline connects 13 villages, including Marinde-nyakaziba, Kyeizooba, Isango, Buhuhira, Bwesumbu, Kirembe lowe, Nyabugando ward, Kabuyiri Maliba, Karitusi Russe, Kyongo, Kasemire, Katooke, and Bikone, bringing electricity to previously underserved areas. Okasai highlights the government’s goal of producing 2,000 megawatts to 52,000 megawatts as new dam construction, such as the one at Karuma, is completed. This expansion aims to provide electricity to industrial hubs and mining companies, aligning with the government’s priorities.
The demand for power from industrialization is growing, and the government recognizes the importance of meeting this demand while reducing reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. The government’s plan includes connecting every sub-county with either solar energy or electricity to combat the use of fossil fuels across the country.
This journey toward renewable energy in Kasese District is not only a local initiative but also part of an international collaboration for a greener future. The widespread adoption of solar and electric connections at the sub-county level aligns with Uganda’s commitment to a sustainable, fossil-free energy future. It also aligns with international efforts to combat climate change and transition to cleaner energy sources.
Uganda’s vision for renewable energy not only enhances the lives of its residents but also contributes to the broader mission of the Nile Basin Initiative. This regional collaboration aims to foster sustainable development and energy solutions across the Nile Basin. As Kilembe Investment works to improve local energy infrastructure, it becomes a key player in the vision of a connected and sustainable power network spanning the Nile Basin.
Uganda’s embrace of renewable energy isn’t just about local change; it’s about creating a greener and more sustainable East Africa through shared energy resources and connectivity. As the government and private companies like Kilembe Investment lead the way, they set a powerful example for the world and demonstrate the transformative potential of renewable energy in changing lives, preserving the environment, and combating climate change.