The World Bank, through the Accelerated Rural Electrification project, has engaged NRECA International to assist Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development and the Rural Electrification Fund (REA) to evaluate the assumptions and conditions affecting the Uganda Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan (RESP). The goal is to identify the barriers to achieving access targets and to determine the appropriate strategy in the next 10-year planning period for an accelerated rate of rural electrification.
At the initiation of the RESP for the period 2001–2010, less than one percent of the rural population of Uganda had access to electricity. The RESP defined a minimum goal of increasing the access to electricity in rural areas to 10 percent through grid extensions (40 percent), investments in isolated grids (25 percent), new customers on the existing grid (15 percent) and new customers accessing electricity through solar PV systems (20 percent).
The RESP was an important component in a broad effort by the Government of Uganda to increase access to electricity through institutional reform and encouragement of private investment. The Electricity Act of 1999, subsequent legislation and statutory regulation included an aggressive unbundling of the former vertically integrated state utility monopoly and incentive to attract private investment into on-grid and off-grid rural distribution of electricity.
The establishment of the REA has successfully implemented a number of rural electrification expansion projects resulting in over 3,000 km of new electric distribution lines since 2006. These distribution infrastructure expansion projects have been turned over to UMEME for operation or have been leased to private service providers. Unfortunately, the RESP has not realized the target rural electrification rate of 10 percent — it is estimated that rural electrification coverage will have reached only five percent by the end of 2010. Reaching the national target of universal access to electricity by 2035 will require acceleration in the rate of electrification.
NRECA International commenced the project in November 2010.