What does it mean to have energy equity?
It means that the woman who owns a restaurant in rural Uganda can keep her produce fresh for longer, serve cold drinks to her customers, and stay open later. It means that the hairdresser who owns a salon can finally use a hair dryer that works, see more clients in a day, and keep her business safe at night. Energy equity means that small business owners can gain more from their electricity connections, through an increased income and improved quality of life.
In Uganda, a country with over 40 million people, only 41% of the population has access to electricity. Additionally, only a fourth of Uganda’s population is connected to the power grid, requiring an additional 10 million connections for the country to achieve universal access. At the same time, there is great potential for cheap, fast, reliable electricity to create direct and indirect jobs in these very communities. For instance, Power for All’s widely-cited Jobs Census of 2019 found that the entire DRE value chain, including sales, installation, service, appliances, and operations and maintenance—is projected to create 4.5 million jobs globally by 2030, not including the potential for DRE connections to create and support businesses in other sectors.
Power for All is now carrying out a second study, following the success of the first, to provide a baseline that better enables the entire energy access ecosystem—from traditional utilities to civil society organizations—to make informed decisions about both electrification strategies and the associated development impacts on job creation. Through a second jobs census, Power for All aims to highlight the value of decentralized renewable energy as an important contributor in reducing unemployment while driving economic growth in energy poor countries, both through energy access and a wide range of good jobs for diverse populations.
Power for All’s Utilities 2.0 Campaign tackles the potential for DRE to generate jobs from an entirely different angle. The campaign unites Uganda’s centralized power utility company, Umeme, and several leading Uganda-based distributed renewable energy companies (DREs), including Equatorial Power, EnerGrow, and East Africa Power to provide connections to areas in Uganda that are yet to be reached by the central power grid. Through the pilot, we hope to provide a replicable model to create faster connections, increase productive use of electricity, improve overall energy system performance, promote economic growth in rural communities, and improve business profitability.
The pilot aims to provide 50 percent of the businesses in Kiwumu, Uganda with asset financing to equip businesses with income-increasing technologies that use electricity. This approach will drive the potential for the pilot project to deliver jobs and improve incomes across the village. The initial projections of the pilot project suggest that connection costs can be reduced by 50 percent by utilizing access to capital and driving customer incomes and demand. Through this integration, Uganda’s energy customers will derive more benefit for each kilowatt consumed, creating more opportunities for business, education, health, safety, and overall quality of life.
Energy equity is the opportunity to run a successful small business, and make a decent income. Through both the Powering Jobs and Utilties 2.0 campaigns, Power for All is working with partners to assess the potential for DRE to not just generate jobs, but improve livelihoods. Power for All is promoting energy equity by advocating for faster connections, and the potential for decentralized renewable energy to reduce unemployment, and drive economic growth in energy poor countries through energy access and a wide range of good jobs for diverse populations.