“Everybody deserves to live a dignified and fulfilled life, and we enable them to unlock their potential to enjoy this privilege through access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy solutions.” – Joanita B Nyangoma.
Energy is the engine for economic growth for any society or country as it provides the basis for socio-economic development. Energy access is a critical enabler of access to the basic needs and essential services which are supplied through other sectors of the economy namely agriculture, health, education, water, transport, construction, to mention but a few. As such, it is extremely vital to the lifespan of these sectors without which, the livelihoods and quality of life of many are consequently affected.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 advocates for access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Uganda, however, despite having especially abundant energy sources such as hydrological and other renewable resources, it experiences widespread energy poverty throughout the country.
By the definition of energy poverty as ‘the absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, affordable, reliable, quality, safe, and environmentally friendly energy services to support economic and human development’, there is energy poverty at all levels in Uganda and particularly at the household level in rural areas. Evidence of this energy poverty can be found in the low levels of consumption of modern energy forms (electricity and petroleum products), the inadequacy and poor quality of electricity services, and the dominant reliance on wood fuel (Tumwesigye, Twebaze, Makuregye, & Muyambi, 2012).
Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa with a current access rate of 28%, leaving approximately over 30 million people with no access to electricity. Additionally, there is an unequal distribution of energy across the country with limited productive use of energy especially in rural areas hence the low purchasing power of the population living in these areas (MEMD, 2019). This means therefore that many rural and peri-urban households cannot access let alone afford reliable, sustainable and clean household energy solutions. This marginalized group of people which contains the largest proportion of the poor population, also largely depends on traditional energy fuels such biomass for their lighting and cooking needs, which poses a threat to their health and welfare.
It is therefore against this background that the Energy Lab at The Innovation Village (TIV) calls upon all industry thought-leaders well as cross-disciplinary experts to join its network in building innovative solutions using disruptive frugal techniques and the nexus approach in our resource-constrained environments to solve the challenges affecting the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP) last mile customers who usually do not have the means to live a dignified and fulfilled life.
The Energy Lab draws on the ancient Japanese concept of, “chowa” which means working in harmony, with multiple stakeholders and beneficiaries, as one force in dialogue towards a sustainable energy economy. Our overall goal is to deliver value to each and every one of our stakeholders as well as create deep meaningful impact for the ultimate last mile customer.
As such, its first pilot, Powering Homes Project (PHP), is geared towards:
- Increasing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for the underserved population.
- Advocating for Energy for Productive use which will subsequently increase the purchasing power of households by eliminating the frequent need to purchase old-fashioned fuels like kerosene lamps and candles for lighting requirements as well as increase the opportunity choice for the uptake of income generating activities.
- Sensitization of the masses towards taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impact which will result into the reduction of air pollution and the dangerous risks associated with traditional cooking fuels like firewood and charcoal which largely affect women and children.
Tumwesigye, R., Twebaze, P., Makuregye, N., & Muyambi, E. (2012). Key issues in Uganda’s energy sector. London: IIED.