Renewable Energy Challenge Fund, (RECF) a project aimed at expanding renewable
access in Uganda has come to an end.
funded by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in Uganda and
supported by the Swedish government has benefited 4.2 million people since its
inception in 2015.
aims to improve access to clean energy finance for poor and low-income people,
where the use of firewood for cooking and kerosene for lighting is still highly
access to electricity is between 48 and 56 percent, while grid electricity
access has grown to about 28 percent, but this still remains much lower than
the recommended 66 percent.
agency says the Program aims to fill in the “missing middle” in renewable
energy Small and Medium Enterprise financing, by investing in early-stage and
turn sets the energy SMEs on the way towards larger, more commercial-oriented
One of the
beneficiaries was Fenix International, providers of solar power solutions, who
bundled together cleaner energy cook stoves with solar home systems and sold
them at reduced costs.
“The aim was
to reduce the overall energy spend for customers, especially on charcoal, which
increased their ability to pay off their solar home systems and cook-stove,”
says the UNCDF.
Other solutions include Pay-Go where the suppliers were given capital to be
able to give away products on credit or hire purchase.
The UNCDF Uganda Energy Access Coordinator, Julius Magala says despite the
program coming to an end, they will continue with other activities like
investing in private sector companies to ensure the continuity of the drive
towards higher renewable energy consumption.
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In total, 22 enterprises were supported under this program, including M-Kopa,
d.light Solar, Sun King, Eco Stove, and Venture South, among others.
By the end of the program, 786,000 clean energy products had been distributed,
and 8,100 tonnes of briquettes sold, in activities that also reportedly created
environmental side, the UNCDF in their assessment says almost 197,000 tons of
firewood were saved, and almost 1.5 million tons of carbon emissions
whose company, Anuel Energy was one of the beneficiaries, says the funds
provided enabled them to create an easier and cheaper distribution system which
included enrolment of agencies around the country.
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Anuel imports and distribute solar lanterns, plug-and-play kits, and
customized solar systems for homes, commercial and institutional users.
Namusaanya, the distribution system built came in handy, especially during the
Covid-19 lockdowns where customers found it easier to get services instead of
moving long distances which had been banned.
The use of
firewood and other biofuel has persisted partly because solar and other cleaner
renewable solutions have taken a long to be embraced because of the initial high
The UNCDF, therefore, had to also help entrepreneurs who were willing to offer financing
solutions to customers.
One of them
is Venture South, which introduced the model of financing from Kenya to the
Ugandan market, to pay the suppliers of the energy products at once, so that
the entrepreneurs can in turn serve the customers on credit.
of the company, George Petty says this helped the suppliers or distributors to
remain in business because they always had capital at hand.
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The beneficiaries were required to fund at least 25 percent of their venture
before accessing the fund. This was aimed at enhancing proper management,
and ensuring continuity when the project time expired.
Magala says that the project initially offered 100,000 to 600,000 dollars per
beneficiary, but that this was revised after realizing that a majority of the
companies needed smaller capital.
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of Energy and Mineral Development admits that there has been significant use of
firewood and the use of briquettes increased, adding that even carbon emission
arising from biofuel use has gone down.
“Over one point…
On the use of solar energy in Uganda the ministry says uptake has been slower
than had been expected because many people still see it as expensive, especially
because, on the open market, one has to pay for it at once.
People, therefore, find themselves continuing to use kerosene, firewood, and
ordinary charcoal stoves.
Ssekitoleko says that while homes have embraced solar faster, institutions and
factories are taking longer because of a lack of awareness of renewable
energy sources. He says that solar power can actually be used for any activity
that is done by the use of grid electricity.
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