13 November 2016, Kampala — Sweden, through the bilateral strategy for Uganda, has signed a Shs15.5 billion funding agreement with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the ministry of Energy for the Renewable Energy Challenge Fund implemented by UNCDF in Uganda.
Mr Alhaji Jallow, the UN resident coordinator in Uganda, said the partnership is aimed at supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Uganda to innovate product and service delivery in underserved markets around the country, especially rural areas.
In Uganda, the UNCDF Clean Start Programme (CSP) launched last year, is co-investing $1.8m (Shs6.3b) in early stage business ideas related to financing distributed energy services, allowing five energy and financial service providers to keep innovation firmly on their agenda while building out their business for future growth.
“Through this partnership, more energy SME’s in Uganda can now benefit from early stage investments and make step changes in the way they serve customers,” Mr Jallow said.
Speaking before the signing of the agreement last Thursday at the Swedish Embassy in Kampala, the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, H.E Per Lindgarde, said the contribution will make it possible for at least 15 additional enterprises to grow and scale up access to affordable energy for over 150,000 households by 2020.
The programme will also enable the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 150,000 tonnes annually while contributing employment for women and youth.
Energy access remains a big challenge for Uganda with only 20 percent of the population having electricity and over 90 per cent of the households depending on biomass for cooking.
Mr James Banaabe, the commissioner for energy efficiency and conservation, at the Energy ministry, said the CSP comes in handy to help connect the people in rural areas who are not connected to the national power grid.
Financing. The Clean Start Programme was launched in Uganda in 2016 and committed a co-investment of $1.2m (Shs4.2b) in five companies to find breakthroughs in energy financing.
*Jonathan Adengo – The Monitor