Friday, July 19, 2013

Energy - A Growing Facet in Uganda

The world over, the position of matters relating to energy has gained prominence. The growth of industry is not only heavily dependent on the availability of energy, but now lays great emphasis on primary source, quality of generation, extent of emissions and their impact on the environment, and, cost of access, beside a host of other considerations.

Uganda / Eastern Africa in Focus
From a global perspective, one needs to come down to individual countries. Many writers have taken interest in different states across the world, and I believe, our challenge or my personal feeling is that, Uganda and possibly the East African region in the long run have not yet received the attention they deserve

Consideration of Some of the cardinal motivations and considerations may be summed up as:
  • Energy is an important parameter in everyday life 
  • Global warming is a concern that requires urgent redress
  • Africa has not kept pace with many energy development issues
  • Africa continues to use heavy energy polluting forms 
  • Deforestation is increasing across the African continent with little redress
  • Afforestation programs need to be adopted / strengthened
  • Populations continue to grow at fast rates, putting more pressure on energy resources in use
  • Women are increasingly spending more time in search of firewood and water
  • Land productivity is continually undermined by poor energy practices
  • Need to adopt better energy practices
  • Awareness of energy issues remains low in region
  • Dissemination of energy knowledge and good practices lacking
  • Modern information channels limited in region
  • Create a forum for discussion in region and globally
  • Sensitize stakeholders on important issues 
  • Some information on what others in the world are doing is likely to spur action
  • Advocacy for energy sector development
We will aim to take the following approach:
  • Provide a background to the East African region, with Uganda in focus;
  • Get a close look at the energy needs of the communities;
  • Segregate rural where the bulk of the population lives, urban patterns, government, commercial, and industrial, and, examine practices over the centuries;
  • Look at special groups / categories where appropriate;
  • Highlight some aspects of Government policy framework and actions to promote the sector;
  • Look at potential roles of private sector (PS) players;
  • Propose interface between Governments and PS stakeholders;
  • Survey markets of energy equipments and other products;
  • Evaluate performance of technologies on market;
  • Prepare critiques of product profiles ;
  • Disseminate information on service providers in marketplace;
  • Disseminate information of potential products sponsored by local stakeholders and manufacturers locally and from beyond our borders; and,
  • Create a forum for stakeholder and general public discussion and dialogue.
Geographic boundaries
Uganda Flag
Uganda Population: 27,269,482
Age structure: 0-14 years 50.1%, 15-64 years 47.6%, 65 years and above 2.2%.
Median age:  14.97 years,14.87 male and15.08 years female
Population growth rate: 3.31%
Birth rate: 47.39 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 12.8 deaths/1,00 population
Fertility rate:  6.74 children born/woman

Uganda is a landlocked country within East Africa, largely bordered by Kenya to the East, Tanzania to the South, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the West and Republic of Southern Sudan to the North. To its South-West, it has a small boundary with the Republic of Rwanda.

Map of Uganda

Source:  Google Maps -

Member of the East African Community (EAC)
In the recent past, the composition of EAC membership expanded to include Rwanda and Burundi to what was part of the defunct EAC in the seventies, of then Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Map of East Africa

Source: Google Maps – East Africa Map with Capitals -

The five members have a lot in common - the people, largely Bantu and Nilotic, the weather, vegetation, close cultures and lifestyles, to mention but a few.


Ascending from ocean to plateau
With Kenya and Tanzania having large coastlines to their East on the Indian Ocean, topography rises toward Uganda where a plateau at some 4,000 feet above sea-level exists, with a mix of the rift valley through most of the EAC states, mountains like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Rwenzori mostly in Uganda but also partly in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Waters of Lake Victoria, also originally named as Nalubaale by the indigenous Ganda ethnic group, are shared between the original EAC states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with the source of the River Nile at Jinja in Uganda. There are also a number of other lakes, like Kyoga, in the middle of Uganda.
River Nile winds through Uganda prior to exit to Southern Sudan. Later on, it is joined by waters from the mountainous regions of Ethiopia, both merging in Sudan prior to flowing through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
Land areas
Huge disparities in size exist, with Kenya and Tanzania much bigger by far than Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
In tropics
With the equator crossing through Kenya and Uganda, these countries are to be found in the tropics, largely providing for very friendly weather in most of the areas. 
This is not to say that extremes do not exist however. The disparities reach extremes, as we briefly mention below.

By Indian Ocean
Along the coastal areas, it can be quite discomforting with both high temperatures and humidity. Dar-es-Salaam, in Tanzania and Mombasa in Kenya are cases in point of the exhausting weather, especially during hot seasons.
Mountainous areas
On the tops of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Rwenzori, there are snowcaps. I recall one frequent experience on flights by the Kilimanjaro area where the snowcapped top stands above the clouds and can be seen for sometime on such flights as from Dar es Salaam to Entebbe in Uganda! It is such an outstanding view so close to the Equator! 
In much of East Africa, we largely talk of wet and dry seasons, not winter through summer. This largely explains the prevalence of tropical architecture tendencies, with ample provision for natural ventilation and little consideration for heating.
Patterns of lifestyle
The EAC region has a mix of agriculture, pastoral and nomadic practices by the vast majority of the populations of the countries in question. Levels of industrial activity are small, with Kenya enjoying the highest manufacturing sector and commercial agriculture.
Animal grazing
In much of Kenya and Tanzania, many ethnic groups graze cattle as their main lifetime engagement. Good examples are to be found in the Masaai in Kenya and Tanzania, and the likes of the people of Ankole in Western Uganda.
Energy characteristics in EAC 
It would not be far-fetched to say that the peoples in the region have very similar patterns in cooking and lighting, two areas where much of the populations need energy.
Transport industry is little developed, depending largely on trucking, given the low levels of operation of railway network, the decline of which was precipitated by the dissolution of the first EAC in the seventies.
The existing rail network was largely powered by diesel locomotives, with traces of steam engines that seemed to be more in use for shunting around stations.
Buses have by and large assumed the dominant mode for long distance travel, both intra-state and across nations. This service is probably more organized in both Kenya and Tanzania, while private sector companies dominate the business in Uganda, each with modest fleet numbers.
Home heating
The relatively friendly weather has meant that the burden of home-heating is near-non-existent, save for some houses mostly in high altitude areas, largely with fireplaces.
Nature of industries
Industries are largely to be found in agricultural processing for traditional crops such as tea, coffee, sugar and grain milling. Many in industries like tea processing continue to use biomass and oil largely. Others like coffee processing largely use electricity from the grid, while grain milling is increasingly powered from the grid since the escalation of fuel prices that used to be for generators. 

No comments: