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09 Dec 2020

Poor govt policy hindering investment in renewable energy – report, By Ephraim Kasozi

Inadequate government support and limited financing from commercial banks, among others, are hindering the private sector from investing in renewable energy, a new report has revealed.

Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished such as solar energy and biogas.

Dubbed, ‘Financing Mechanisms for Private Sector Investment in Renewable Energy Access in Uganda,’ the report shows that renewable energy is a profitable venture for investors as well as saving the environment.

However, it indicates that the government does not provide the incentives in form of taxes, electricity subsidies and other sources of financing to attract the private sector to invest in renewable energy sources.

For instance, the report shows that 65 percent of renewable energy companies in Kampala and 85 percent of those upcountry did not know any funding opportunities in Uganda.

“…high and uncertain project development costs, lack of well-defined bankable projects, poor credit profile and financial records, unclear taxation and subsidies, low renewable energy technology sales and fragmented funding landscape and a scattergun approach to private sector support,” reads the report commissioned by civil society body Environmental Alert in partnership with NORAD.

The report is in regard to the project titled, ‘Increasing access to sustainable and renewable energy alternatives in the AlbertineGraben’ that is implemented by World Wide Fund-Uganda.

The report shows that Uganda has found it challenging to utilize many of these renewable energy resources and to ensure the energy mix to accelerate energy access.

“Increasing access to electricity will require a sharp increase in energy access investments. Since public funds are limited, the necessary investments cannot be made by the government alone. Therefore, the mobilization of private investment and finance is crucial,” the report adds.

While launching the report on Friday, Dr Joshua Zake, the Executive Director of Environmental Alert, revealed that apart from inadequate government support, private sector players face higher foreign exchange risks when sourcing international funds and that despite availability of financial instruments to hedge the risk for commonly traded currencies, some borrowers are unwilling to provide the same instrument for currencies traded less frequently.

“The small scale of many renewable energy projects creates significant problems in obtaining international private financing. The sums of finance often required by the projects in their start-up phase are often too small for mainstream investors and banks. The transaction costs of funding many small projects are high because of the due diligence and bureaucracy involved,” he quoted the report, revealing that typical due diligence costs for larger projects can be in the range of $ 0.5 million to $1 million.

Dr Zake however, said that the report, enlists key financing sources that can be tapped to invest in renewable energy by the private sector.

“The report findings and recommendations have helped us to clarify the actions and what duty bearers should do towards the implementation of the study in as far as accessing financing for renewable energy by private sector is concerned,” he said.

In response, Mr John Bosco Tumuhimbise, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of renewable energy at the Energy ministry, admitted that the low level of development and modest contribution of modern renewables are a result of several barriers and challenges which are economic in nature.

“These barriers are financial, fiscal and socio-economic. Investment in renewable energy must compete for resources with other projects whose risks may be lower but also offer better returns on investment. Renewable energy tariffs usually do not factor in other non-monetary benefits such as improved health, reduction in harmful emissions, environmental sustainability and ecosystem services,” he said.

To ensure a steady increase in the contribution of renewable energy sources, Mr Tumuhimbise revealed that government is reviewing the renewable energy policy to address a range of constraints that have hindered the development and adoption of modern renewable energy

The report revealed that financing underdeveloped financial markets, inappropriate financing terms and conditions, limited long-term financing, limited awareness of energy financing opportunities and few well-defined bankable projects are barriers to investment in renewable energy.

“Investments in low-income energy markets like in Uganda are often longer-term, higher risk, and generate a lower financial return. Commercial investors may be unwilling to spend time building the relationships and market demand required to generate a decent return, requiring more ‘patient’ forms of capital instead,” reads the report.

The report shows that many renewable energy projects are too small for mainstream investors, banks; associated with higher risk, lower financial return thereby limiting financing of private sector investment.

Statistics show that despite the recent efforts by the government to increase access to electricity by all Ugandans, more than two-thirds of the population lack access to electricity.

Uganda is among countries with the lowest electricity access rate; over 93% of the population relying on biomass for energy.


27 Nov 2020


By Kimbowa Richard, Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development / INFORSE East Africa-Member of the Renewable energy CSO Network hosted by Environmental Alert.

Uganda has a huge potential to exploit the large quantities of crop residues and animal wastes generated by farmers. It is on this basis that some households and institutions have embraced biogas as a renewable energy option to meet their energy needs. However, since its introduction in Uganda in the 1950’s, biogas technology is still not universally accepted and penetration has remained relatively low (Uganda Domestic Biogas Programme, 2010).

Biogas plants are vital to convert bio-wastes into cooking gas (mainly methane), providing a viable alternative for firewood or charcoal. Biogas generation can be done at any scale and can be owned by individual households, institutions and even villages. These plants are an environmentally friendly way of disposing of organic waste materials which would otherwise be dumped anywhere including in wetlands and landfills.

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27 Nov 2020


Author: Phillip KIHUMURO, Research Associate, World Agroforestry- Member of the Renewable energy CSO Network hosted by Environmental Alert.

Deep down in rural Western Uganda, access to twigs and sticks growing along a neighbours boundary fence, is the difference between a 70-year old and her grandchildren having  lunch or not. A world away, in the semi-urban suburbs of Kiti in Wakiso in Central Uganda, another family has the choice between using charcoal, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or an electric hotplate, but mostly uses charcoal to prepare their meals due to the convenience. In both these cases, biomass is very crucial in the provision of their domestic energy needs.

Close to 90% of Uganda’s total primary energy consumption is generated through biomass (77% firewood, 5.6% charcoal and 4.7% from crop residues (MEMD, 2016). The REDD+ strategy for Uganda has identified fuelwood consumption as one of the drivers of deforestation and degradation in Uganda The question is: how can charcoal be produced sustainably to meet this demand without destroying and degrading forests and the environment?

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26 Nov 2020

Energy and Minerals Week 2020, 1st-4th December 2020

The Energy and Minerals Week is an annual week-long event organised by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD). It started as an energy efficiency week in 2005 with the objective of creating awareness amongst the public on the efficient utilisation of energy. Thus, particularly the event is organised for a number of reasons including:

  1. Creating awareness among the general public on various aspects relating to energy and minerals through provision of information;
  2. Providing platform for issue-based dialogue and engagements among stakeholders and partners;
  3. Providing platform for the promotion of the efficient and rational utilization of energy and minerals resources;
  4. Promote private sector involvement in the development of the energy and minerals sectors;
  5. To support private sector in the sale and marketing of technologies related to energy and minerals.

The key players and actors in the energy sector would come together through an exhibition to share ways of conserving energy using sensitization campaigns and marketing of efficient energy products. In 2012, it was rebranded as the Energy Week so as to focus the event on, ‘Sustainable Energy Utilization.’ Since then, it has become a popular event with numerous partners and over 100 key stakeholders participating in the event.

The theme for the Energy and Minerals Week, 2020

The event will take place from 1st – 4th December, 2020, and due to the impact of Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19), the Energy & Minerals Week 2020 is being organised to take place virtually under the theme, ‘Energy & Minerals for Industrialization, Job Creation and shared prosperity’. The focus for this year’s Energy & Minerals dialogue is on Efficiency and Sustainability as well as building market for the products and services within energy and minerals sector.

 Energy and Minerals week 2020 activities are scheduled as follows:

  1. Radio promotions to start running- Wednesday 25th November, 2020;
  2. Press conference at Media Centre – Monday 30th November, 2020;
  3. Biomass Energy Dialogue – Thursday 3rd December 2020;
  4. Celebrating 100 Years of Geological Survey in Uganda – Thursday 3rd December 2020;
  5. Power Forum 2020 – Friday 4th December 2020.


11 Nov 2020

Annual general meeting (AGM) for The Renewable energy CSO Network,scheduled for 18th November 2020

Environment Alert (EA) is implementing a project titled ‘Increasing access to sustainable and renewable energy alternatives in the Albertine Graben’ that aims at communities adopting sustainable renewable energy alternatives to reduce dependency on biomass for their energy needs. The project is being implemented in collaboration with the World-Wide Fund-Uganda Country Office (WWF-UCO) with financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). One of the project outcomes is ‘Project CSOs have capacity to engage government and private sector on adoption of policies, legislation and best practices for sustainable and renewable energy access. Under this outcome, there are a number of outputs and one of them is Output 1.4: WWF and project CSOs have created networks to coordinate civil society engagements at national and local levels

There are already initiatives that have been done to contribute to the achievement of the above project output, and among them is formation of Renewable Energy CSO Network in 2018 in order to ensure organization and coordination mechanisms for a shared and structured engagements agenda with the MEMD and other relevant ministerial departments and agencies (MDAs) to influence access to clean and sustainable management of renewable energy resources.

Following the formation of the Network, a committee was constituted to develop a Memorandum of Principles/regulations for the Renewable Energy Coalition to ensure smooth running of the Network.

Articles 9 of the Memorandum of Principles/regulations provides the governance structures of Network and guides how these periodically meet to discuss matters of importance to the Network. Subsection 9.1 provides for AGM; which is the supreme decision-making organ of the Network. The General Assembly meets annually to discharge its functions.

It’s against this background that Environment Alert on behalf of RECSO Network is organinsing the AGM to approve and provide guidance on several governance issues for the Network.

The objectives of the meeting is to:

  1. To highlight the key network achievements in respect to governance, leadership and mobilization;
  2. To highlight the Renewable energy CSO Network performance in 2020 and future outlook in 2021. Narrative Technical Report and Financial Report.
  3. To approve the Renewable Energy CSO Network Website, letterhead, thematic working group composition and the respective TORs, Members that formalized their membership, and new members of the Network.
  4. To provide space for Network members to exhibit their IEC materials to enhance members visibility and work across the Network.

The activity is scheduled for 18th November 2020. However, participation is only by invite.

22 Oct 2020


This initiative is organized in collaboration with the WWF Uganda Country Office and above all aim at providing a platform for sharing experiences and success stories on renewable energy access and utilization within the region. Furthermore, the webinars target at publicizing the role of CSOs contribution towards Renewable energy access and the overall contribution towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The first confirmed webinar is on 30th October, 2020. The topic for discussion is the, ‘Role of CSOs in Energy Access Initiatives- Leveraging the contribution that CSOs play in achieving SDG 7.’

This broader topic will be discussed by various speakers as follows:

  • Engaging CSOs in Renewable energy policy and advocacy – Experiences from Uganda.
    Speaker: Joshua Zake, Environmental Alert Uganda;
  • Role of CSOs in the Regional renewable energy space.
    Speaker: Eugene Nforngwa, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance;
  • Experiences from the Energy Working Group in the elaboration of the National Energy Policy on the charcoal value chains;
  • Scaling up the Barefoot College approach: A case study of the BCMada CSO.
    Speaker: Solo Thierry Randriamanalina, WWF Madagascar

NB: The webinar will be moderated by Thomas Opande, Africa Energy Programe Coordinator, WWF.

The Registration Link for the webinar is:

The time for the webinar is: October 30th, 2020 02:00 PM in Nairobi

You are therefore, encouraged to participate and contribute to this initiative.

The scheduled for the subsequent webinars during the period is as follows:

 NB: Further information will be shared going forward.


1)       Virtual Training for country CSOs:  Building strong engagement, advocacy and Community Influence Strategies November 2020
2)       Financing for Off-grid Energy Access; Mobilizing end-use and Investment Financing for off-grid energy access – the role of CSOs January 2021
3)       Energy Policy Pathways to achieving SDG7. March 2021
4)       Energy and Gender issues: Navigating the Gender Dynamics of Energy Access and SDG7 May 2021
5)       Collaborations and Partnerships: Leveraging cross-organizational synergies to achieve off-grid Energy Access Goals. July 2021
07 Oct 2020

National Stakeholder dissemination and lobby workshop on the findings of the study on, ‘Sustainable biomass energy production within central forest reserves and forest landscapes in Uganda

Environment Alert (EA) is implementing a project titled ‘Increasing access to sustainable and renewable energy alternatives in the Albertine Graben’ that aims at communities adopting sustainable renewable energy alternatives to reduce dependency on biomass for their energy needs. The project is being implemented in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature – Uganda Country Office (WWF-UCO) with financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). One of the project outcomes is “Central and district local government have put in place an enabling environment (policies, strategies and incentives) to increase energy access and improve energy efficiency for cooking and conservation”

There are already initiatives that have been done to contribute to the achievement of the above project outcome; that to date Environmental Alert has already conducted a study—‘’Understanding the current status, emerging issues (challenges & opportunities) for advancing Private Sector Investment in sustainable Biomass Energy Production within Central Forest Reserves and Forest Landscapes in Uganda’’

The study aimed at identifying the underlying issues (challenges & opportunities), and offer recommendations and actions for advancing structured investments (by Government & Private sector) in sustainable biomass production within central forest reserves and forest landscapes across the country to contribute towards the huge national demands for biomass energy.

The study highlighted the underlying problem which is the wide gap between biomass energy production (supply) and demand, the unsustainable harvesting of natural forest resources resulting in deforestation and forest degradation which is caused by high population dependency on biomass energy, loss of forest cover due to unsustainable harvesting of forest products, forest clearance for agriculture, urbanization, industrial development; inefficient technologies in the production and use of biomass resources resulting in more trees cut and above all the lack of dedicated and sustained investments in biomass production to replace the biomass harvested.

The study also highlighted some of the limited interventions implemented by government to address the gap such as:

The UNDP-GEF-MEMD – Promotion of Sustainable Charcoal Production Project (popularly known as the Green Charcoal Project) piloted in the districts of Mubende, Kiboga, Nakaseke and Kiryadongo and NFA;  The Local Forest Reserves (LFRs) in the selected study area cover 4,997 ha but have not been utilized fully for forestry purposes as the law requires; Communities have planted woodlots and scattered trees on their lands for fuel wood, but most households remain dependent on the available natural sources of wood which have become scarce and difficult for women and children to access. Among others.

The study also recommended some policy options such as

  1. MOFPED should provide the private sector with economic incentives like cheap ground rent and soft loans, performance rewards, grants to support investment in dedicated biomass energy plantations and efficient biomass energy production and use technologies.”
  2. “MWE should address the biomass energy production through dedicated large scale biomass plantations in the country using species like bamboo, eucalyptus, Grevillea, Calliandra, Sesbania, Melia, Senna,  since they are fast growing”

All this information is contained in a policy brief entitled “Biomass Energy Supply and Demand Imbalance is a looming crisis, which needs urgent Investment”.

It is against this background that Environment alert is organizing the dissemination and lobbying workshop to forward this information to the duty bearers—NFA, this part of lobbying processes to creating an enabling environment (policies, strategies and incentives) to increase energy access and improve energy efficiency for cooking.

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