By Iminza Keboge
Published August 26, 2017
An off-grid energy contest in Uganda that seeks to identify and support enterprises either led by or benefitting women to compete in the global economy has
announced winners for 2017.
Joint Energy and Environments Projects (JEEP) and Conservation and Development Uganda Limited (CODE), the winners of the initiative known as Women in Energy
Challenge, shall each receive a grant of $100,000 to expand their renewable energy enterprises to reach women in Uganda where only 20% of the population is
reported to be connected to electricity.
While JEEP is wholly owned by women and focuses on fish economy in central Uganda, CODE, in western Uganda, is a majority-women owned enterprise seeking to ‘provide alternative and safer fuel sources’ to women who are forced to walk long distances in search of firewood.
With its US$100000 grant, JEEP says it plans to install six green power units with solar-powered cold storage facilities for fish preservation, phone charging and solar home systems for sale in Kalangala district, a remote island area on Lake Victoria. Each unit, JEEP says, will be run by a women’s group
trained in bookkeeping and will each repay a portion of their profits to JEEP to be used to replicate the model throughout the region. Thus each unit create jobs and increase incomes for local women.
CODE, on its part, says it shall invest its grant in alternative and safer fuel sources for women; that it shall sell Agro-Eco kits as alternative and safer fuel sources. Using a low-cost distribution system through Village Savings and Loan Associations, CODE says it will collect revenue and expand its business
to impact more and more households in the region in which it operates.
“We launched this Women in Energy Challenge to find the best and the brightest female entrepreneurs that are making a difference in bringing electricity to rural communities,” says CD Glin, President and Chief Executive Officer of US African Development Foundation (USADF). “We are very pleased to see that
these women-led enterprises are showing promise in finding alternative solutions to Uganda’s energy crisis.”
Saying “Providing energy access to Africa’s population is a priority for us,” Jay Ireland, President and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric (GE) Africa says, “The Women in Energy Challenge is one of our commitments towards supporting local entrepreneurs and we are delighted that African women-owned
enterprises are solving local challenges.”
The Women in Energy Challenge, part of Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative launched in Uganda in 2016, is the initiative of USADF in collaboration with Power Africa and GE that is said to be ‘bridging the energy gap for some of Uganda’s most vulnerable populations.’
USADF says its aims are to ‘promote innovative solutions that increase access to reliable, affordable and sustainable power – particularly for vulnerable populations who will have little to no access to grid power.’
The US American power agency says it has a ‘US$5 million co-funding agreement with the Government of Uganda’ and that it has already awarded three Off-Grid Challenge grants to energy enterprises.
“Since 2013, USADF has partnered with GE and Power Africa to fund over 70 off-grid energy companies in nine countries in Africa, and invested over US$7 million in Africa’s energy entrepreneurs, which has already resulted in over 20,000 actual connections benefitting over 100,000 people,” USADF says in a
Power Africa is a US American Government-led initiative launched in 2013 to increase electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa by adding more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections. It says it “works with African governments and private sector
partners to remove barriers that impede energy development in sub-Saharan Africa and to unlock the substantial natural gas, wind, solar, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal resources on the continent.”