Pay more attention to energy access
Posted Wednesday, January 30 2013 at 02:00
The current prohibitive cost of power is bound to slowdown access to the electricity grid . The President and his government might be trudging the right path on energy but they need to urgently deal with the challenges of cost and access.
After years of bearing the brunt of insufficient electricity, there is good reason to hope that Ugandans are headed for a future filled with adequate energy. President Museveni has in the recent past emerged as one of the foremost activists for energy sufficiency. His efforts have lit some light at the end of the tunnel.
Last weekend, the President commissioned the newly constructed Kabalega power station in Buseruka on Wambabya River in Hoima District, adding an extra 9mw of power to the national grid to boost the national power production. The Buseruka dam is the sixth power project after Bujagali’s 250mw, Bugoye’s 13mw, Mpanga’s 18mw, Ishasha’s 6,1/2mw and Nyagak’s 3mw.
During the commissioning, the President said other smaller dams, including that of Kikagati-16mw, Nshongezi-25mw, Citi-25mw, Muzizi-26, Achwa-42 and Nyamwamba-14mw will be completed in three years under the Uganda Rural Electrification programme.
Given that energy is one of the key drivers of economic growth, it is proper for the government to ensure that there is enough of it to guarantee economic growth and development.
Uganda being a largely agro-based economy, its future lies among others in modernising its agriculture and adding value to agro products in order to optimise returns from its agricultural activities.
Achieving this will mean improved exports and balance of payments and an improved value chain which translates into more jobs and a stronger economy.
Desirable as it might be, this scenario cannot be realised without adequate energy to power the machinery that must be in place for agricultural mordernisation and value addition to take place. And with just about 10 per cent of Ugandans connected to the national electricity grid, the rest of Ugandans largely rely on kerosene for lighting and firewood or charcoal for cooking.
Clearly, we still have a long way to go. In fact, we ought to have done better. The current prohibitive cost of power is bound to slowdown access to the electricity grid and dampen economic development.
The President and his government might be trudging the right path on energy but they need to urgently deal with the challenges of cost and access.