By John Odyek
BBOXX, Virunga Power and Fenix International are some companies that have responded to Obama’s Power Africa programme. They have developed and deployed innovative technologies which have provided electricity to thousands of Ugandans for the first time.
Another of Power Africa’s partners, Solar Sister, recruits, trains, and supports Ugandan women who build sustainable businesses selling portable solar lamps, mobile phone chargers and fuel‐efficient cook stoves.
BBOXX, UK based company is leading the solar revolution by offering an on-grid experience in an off-grid world powered through a unique financing model to sell solar systems to the mass market on a monthly payment plan. BBOXX leads and manages all aspects of its business operations – engineered from its lab in London, manufactured in its factory in China, followed by distribution to partners in 35 countries and 30 local shops in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Virunga Power invest in electrification projects across the renewables spectrum – small hydro, solar, wind, and biomass – that create sustainable development benefits for rural communities. Our target projects are between 1 and 10 MW in installed generation capacity.
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-funded next-generation energy company with offices in Uganda and the Silicon Valley. Their core expertise is in renewable energy, mobile finance, and last-mile sales, marketing, distribution and customer service
Uganda currently has 850 MW of installed capacity of which approximately 645 MW is hydro, and 101.5 MW is thermal generating capacity. Government is building additional large hydropower facilities such as the 600MW Karuma hydro and the 183MW Isimba Falls hydro project.
Uganda has approximately 1400‐1500 km of transmission lines (over 33kV), which the government aims to double; there are plans to upgrade existing transmission lines and develop a 220kV “ring” around Lake Victoria in conjunction with Kenya and Tanzania.
Distribution is regulated and cost‐reflective tariffs are used. The average tariff to consumers is $0.17/kWh ($0.11/kWh for industrial users), with the first 15 units of power subsidized. The Electricity Act of 1999 initiated extensive power sector reform in Uganda by establishing the Electricity Regulatory Authority as an independent regulator and by enabling private participation in the power sector; reforms have allowed independent power producers to generate electricity and sell it to the grid.
Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid partners are already working to bring power to Uganda. Power Africa’s approach considers three related but distinct challenges to bringing that vision of power to life. Power must be available, meaning sufficient megawatts must be generated to meet people’s needs. It must be accessible, so that even those communities that cannot be connected to national grids can still access electricity. It must meet basic quality considerations, meaning natural resources and megawatts generated are efficiently managed to ensure optimal use.
President Obama launched Power Africa to bring together technical and legal experts, the private sector, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.
The goals is to enable electricity access by adding 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 megawatts of new and cleaner power generation.
US$20 billion in private sector commitments from over 100 partners leveraged by an initial US government commitment of US$7 billion nearly 3:1 leveraging of funds
The Government of Sweden committed US$1 billion, adding to the World Bank Group’s commitment of US$5 billion, and the African Development Bank’s commitment of US$3 billion. Power Africa is currently expanding its activities and presence across all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the last year, Power Africa has extended the initiative into new markets. Examples of Power Africa’s existing and planned activities include work in Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, and Uganda. Transactions brought to financial close expected to generate over 4,100 MW of electricity
The U.S. Government and its partners are currently exploring opportunities for energy partnerships in Uganda. Following President Obama’s announcement in August 2014 at the U.S. ‐ Africa Leadership Summit, Power Africa began planning to expand and scale out our initiative across all of Sub‐Saharan Africa.
Large- and small-scale solutions for bringing cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity to sub-Saharan Africa are all grounded in a new model of development that drives Power Africa. The core of this model is based on effective partnerships that link public and private sector goals and resources, and connect investors and entrepreneurs to business opportunities in Africa. Structured not from the top down, but laterally, with U.S. agencies, African governments, private sector actors, and other stakeholders serving as partners in the enterprise.