Uganda’s energy sector: challenges and opportunities

By R Mbabazi (Makerere University), Professor B Sebitosi (Stellenbosch University), Dr Julianne Sansa-Otim (Makerere University, Dr Richard Okou (Makerere University)


Published in:

Electricity+Control, January 2015 (pages 34 − 38)

Enquiries: Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Stellenbosch University Visit


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The authors conducted a survey to appreciate the challenges faced by commercial users of electricity in Uganda. The electricity grid only covers the urban parts of the country, yet 80 % of the population lives in the rural areas. The rural electrification agency was thus formed in 2001 to ensure that rural electrification improved from 1 % in 2001 to 10 % by 2012.


Some findings

  • 22 % of the responses said that their greatest problem with power was that it is expensive while 51 % said that the power was unstable. 27% did not respond.
  • Concerning availability of power, 77 % of the consumers said they had no power for more than three days in a week.
  • When there is no power, 42 % of the businesses use generators while 18 % close the business for the day. 32 % use lanterns for lighting and 8 % use candles.
  • Unstable power can lead to equipment getting spoilt. 29 % of the business owners said that their equipment had become spoilt while 70 % said that none of their equipment had become spoilt. Surprisingly 54 % of the consumers said they were just satisfied with the distribution company, while 18 % were very dissatisfied.


Take note

  • A vibrant energy sector sets the pace for the development of a nation’s economy.
  • Critical problem areas in Uganda’s electrical power grid require custom-designed smart solutions.
  • The future for any electrical grid is in converting to a smarter grid.