Kalangala Power operators are struggling to put in place incentives to lure people to consume more power for productive use.
The Power Operator Kalangala Infrastructure Services generate up to 1.6 megawatts of power in their hybrid solar – thermal power plant in Bukuzindu, Mugoye Sub County. However, only 0.4 megawatts of power is utilized.
Now, the power operators are looking for partners who can help people in the different landing sites that make up Bugala Island get machines that can be used in power consumption and also for the benefit of the islanders.
In 2005, having struggled to attract private investors to address the island’s infrastructure crisis, the Government of Uganda approached PIDG company and Infraco Africa for assistance.
InfraCo Africa, through its principal developer, eleQtra, led the design of the KIS Project, balancing delivery of high quality infrastructure solutions with the need for commercial viability and affordable access for residents. The services included the generation of the solar thermal power on the district’s main island.
Kalangala District is situated in the middle of Lake Victoria. Its main Island “Bugala” where KIS ltd supplies power has a population of 17,000 people, most of whom are predominantly fishermen.
The people in Kalangala District mostly live in temporary structures that are situated in the 16 landing sites that are located on the island. Most of the people use the power generated for domestic use. Those who utilize the power to support their businesses are located in Kalangala town.
At the inception of the power project, KIS according to the Public Relations and Marketing manager Joseph Mulindwa presumed that even multinationals like Oil Palm Uganda Limited would be connected to the KIS grid. However, OPUL’s main crude oil facility is still not connected.
“We expected that when such companies are connected, more power would be utilized to improve productivity of the companies,” Mulindwa said.
However, OPUL remains utilizing its renewable energy generated by the Crude oil milling plant in Bwendero.
The OPUL factory consumes up to 0.3 megawatts of power each time it runs its machines. Bugala Island has three sub counties. The Island according to the district commercial office only has 61 registered large scale businesses most of which do not use power.
Kalangala Town Council Chairperson Steven Kizza said, most of the businesses are not connected to the KIS thermal solar power grid because they lack the capacity to have machines that can utilize power for productivity.
“If you realize, many of the businesses within Kalangala have potential to improve if connected to power. Suppose we get people who can easily avail power consuming gadgets that can be invested in such businesses, Kalangala would thrive,” Mr Kizza said.
The main business opportunities in the island district include fish factories, wielding and mechanic stations plumbing.
One of the fish traders in the area Gertrude Nabukeera said fish can only be preserved for a longer period of time if the factories that deal in fish had ice plants but such facilities need electricity and that many of the people who deal in the business have no money to buy the fish handling facilities that required.
Now, the power providers in a bid to increase the usage of power in the island district have engaged partners including banks and non-government organizations to provide soft loans and electrical equipment to different that would be given to different people with thriving businesses.
According to the John Opondo, the KIS Managing Director, this would be a step of improving productivity and increase the utilization of power in Kalangala District.
Under the current productive use of power arrangement, Power operators KIS ltd in association with USAID under the Power Africa project will identify several power consumers who need electrical equipment that would use power for productivity, recommend them to several financial institutions that would later buy the equipment that would be given to the people to improve the productivity of their businesses. The financial institutions will offer the equipment in form of loans payable after an agreed period of time.
“This will boost the usage of power on the grid. It would also improve the income generating activities the people in the communities engage in,” Mr Opondo said.
Paul Clark the Director Power Africa said, KIS’s proposal to engage people in the island district in incentives that help in the productive use of power are a step in the right direction of meeting the millennium development goals.