The government hopes to have all Ugandans have access to electricity by 2030, from a 45 percent coverage currently, according to the Energy Transition Plan launched at the global climate conference (COP28).
Currently, even in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is among the lower half of countries in terms of electricity access.
The revolutionary plan also hopes to see out the 94 percent of Ugandans who are currently using biomass (firewood and charcoal) to access cleaner cooking energy, according to the plan launched in the United Arab Emirates.
It is estimated that a total of 50,000 people in Uganda die of in-house emission-related complications, and these would be saved by the implementation of the plan.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda has a generation capacity of 2,000 megawatts, with 95 percent provided by hydro and solar sources, making it a world leader in renewable energy.
The government also has a plan to drive up generation to 52GW (52,000 megawatts by 2040), with more solar and hydro while simultaneously developing geothermal and nuclear plants, and becoming a regional supplier.
Uganda will “become a regional hub for energy, able to export surplus electricity and refined petroleum products from the local oil refinery at heart of oil and gas sector project which is nearing maturity with first oil scheduled in 2025,” according to Irene Bateebe, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry.
However, to reach the 2030 universal access target, at least 800,000 households have to be connected annually from today.
While this is considered a tough target, there is confidence that it can be achieved, as Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Rwanda have achieved similar connection rates in recent years.
“As a country and a ministry we have embarked on Long-term energy planning to enable us as a Ministry to develop policies, national targets, and investment strategies that are derived from quantitative analysis of energy sector scenarios especially geared towards a transition to a low carbon economy, aided by modeling of energy systems,” says Bateebe.
The government plans to fund the ETP in part through revenues from its oil and gas reserves, whose exploitation is scheduled to begin in 2025.
The plan sets out to achieve this by welcoming the private sector to invest in projects, as the energy transition plan is estimated to be worth 170,000 jobs.
Uganda has committed to meeting carbon emission reduction targets and the plan is designed to reach net zero emissions for the energy sector by 2065.
The Plan is aimed at serving as the groundwork for the country’s Integrated Energy Resource Plan and as a tool to engage with international actors on Uganda’s energy needs related to development, energy security, managing affordability, and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, Bateebe says.
The plan now gives Uganda greater ability to unlock more finance, “especially in the context of Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP) or similar policy tools at COP28,” she says.
The plan was developed by the International Energy Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, to meet the country’s growth and development objectives “in a secure, affordable, and sustainable way.”
Energy Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa recognizes that the plan implementation is a huge task but achievable through local and foreign resource mobilization.
“Annual energy investment needs to climb to 5.7 billion dollars by the end of this decade, with 850 million needed annually to reach universal access. Realizing this sharp uptick in investment requires greater support from the international community and concentrated efforts to involve private sector finance,” Nankabirwa says.
She says that for Uganda to achieve energy transition goals, the pace of expanding energy infrastructure must be faster, and electricity and clean cooking access rates increase significantly.
“Fortunately, Uganda has an enormous amount of domestic resources that can help realize the transition. Uganda has ample potential for solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal power.
With the opening of Tilenga and Kingfisher oil fields in 2025, Uganda is set to become an oil producer and exporter for the first time in its history. These resources, will reinforce the transition and contribute to Uganda’s economic growth.”