Kampala, Monday, November 15th, 2021 - Today, the state minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Honorable Okaasai Sidronius Opolot, commissioned a 40kWp mini grid in Kiwumu, Mukono district in Uganda to power 300 households and 60 local businesses. The plant is part of an integrated energy initiative, the Utilities 2.0 Twaake pilot , that unites the centralized power utility company, Umeme Ltd., and several leading Uganda-based distributed renewable energy companies (DREs). These include: Equatorial Power, who constructed the minigrid, EnerGrow, who provides asset financing for carpentry, refrigeration and other income generating appliances and East Africa Power, who contributed the productive use of energy technology for agricultural processing. Twaake is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and is coordinated by Power for All. The project aims 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.
In a country with only 28 percent of the population accessing electricity from the central grid, more than 10 million additional connections are required for Uganda to achieve universal access, according to the World Bank. At an average grid connection cost of $1,400, the required investment if grid extension is the only service provision method, would be in the range of USD $7 billion at USD—over a fifth of Uganda’s current annual GDP (estimated at $37 billion).
The Utilities 2.0 Twaake pilot is designed to at least halve this cost by promoting an integrated approach to electrification that uses all solutions available rather than only the main grid. Integrated energy solutions combine centralized and decentralized technologies (including solar home systems, mini-grids, grid, and smart grid systems) into an intelligent and interactive energy network that can deliver customer-centric, clean energy solutions to end energy poverty at the lowest cost and transform millions of lives faster than “one size fits all” approaches using on the main grid. According to recent models by Power for All and Duke University, connection costs can be reduced by 50 percent by leveraging a utility’s ability to access cheaper capital while increasing the value of the customers by providing them with productive electrical tools and appliances that drive up customers' incomes and also their demand for energy. 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.
As part of the project, the project aims to provide 50 percent of the businesses in Kiwumu with asset financing to assist businesses in accessing technologies that can help them increase income using electricity. Helping customers move beyond simple lighting and phone charging with appliance financing and financial literacy training for their businesses will fuel potential for the pilot project to deliver jobs and improve incomes across both villages.
This is the first multi-stakeholder partnership between off grid renewable energy companies and a national utility in Africa. In partnership with Makerere University and several Ugandan companies, Power for All will evaluate the socio-economic benefits of integrated energy and the effectiveness of the business models tests in pilot. Together, the entire consortium will work with the Government of Uganda to achieve Uganda’s first successful interconnected mini grid in mid-2022 and identify approaches to replication and scale in order to accelerate energy access and deepen the benefits to the people of Uganda.
In his remarks, Hon. Opolot emphasized the role of energy in harnessing the country’s opportunities and driving the industrial and service sectors and underlined the importance of public -private partnerships like the Twaake pilot project.
“This project underpins the role that public private sector partnerships shall play in expediting development of Uganda’s energy sector. I hereby congratulate the project partners for this first-of-its-kind integrated energy project in Uganda that has the potential to not only fast track rural electrification but also stimulate energy demand for productive use.”
Selestino Babungi, Umeme Managing Director and CEO said, “Uganda is now facing a challenge of access to clean energy with about half of the population having access, of which 25% are connected to the grid and 26% using offgrid solutions like solar. Twaake is coming in to bridge the gap of delivering clean energy to the households. This partnership will ensure that we deliver clean energy to the population in this pilot phase, pick lessons and use it to scale up. The partnership will assist to drive Uganda’s electricity agenda.”
Power for All CEO, Kristina Skierka remarked that, “ Neither centralized nor decentralized energy can end energy poverty alone. However, through partnership and leveraging comparative strengths, traditional utilities and innovative DRE companies can create a new frontier in the fight to end energy poverty,” said Kristina Skierka, Power for All CEO.
The Utilities 2.0 project in Uganda is also partnering with other private sector energy organisations such as Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association (AMDA), CLASP, CrossBoundary, Nxt Grid, as well as research organizations including Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), University of Massachusetts Amherst, Duke and Makerere University.
Power for All will provide regular updates on the progress of the Uganda pilot, and expects to expand the initiative to other countries with like-minded utilities. If you are interested in joining the Utilities 2.0 consortium, please email
For more information, please visit powerforall.org/campaigns/utilities
Note to Editors:
A report of the Utilities 2.0: Integrated Energy for Optimal Impact is also available for download. Published paper: Business model innovations for utility and mini-grid integration: Insights from the Utilities 2.0 initiative in Uganda available for download
About Power for All
Power for All is a global coalition campaigning to accelerate the end of energy poverty by scaling distributed renewable energy solutions. The campaign represents more than 300 business, finance, and civil society organizations focused on decentralized renewables, including household and business solar, mini-grids and productive use appliances.
Umeme Limited is Uganda’s leading electricity Distribution Company, listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange and cross-listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. The Company operates a 20-year electricity distribution concession that started in March 2005. Umeme is mandated to operate, maintain and upgrade electricity distribution infrastructure, electricity retail, and provision of related services.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to health and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.
About Equatorial Power
Equatorial Power (EP) is a pioneer of decentralized energy infrastructure services for rural and peri-urban access, with a viable and scalable business model, focused on customer growth through its service offering. It goes beyond electrons, to provide an integrated service to peri-urban and rural communities, including clean energy, a business incubation program for local SMEs, Productive Hubs (water, ice, agro-processing) and an e-mobility proposition.
About East Africa Power
East African Power (EAP) is an integrated renewable energy development and engineering company delivering affordable and reliable clean energy solutions. EAP is a long-term, social-impact-oriented IPP business developing, designing, building, and operating hydro and solar power plants in Africa since 2012. Through innovation, environmental and social stewardship, EAP aims to develop 1 GW of renewable energy by 2030.
EnerGrow is a tech start-up growing sustainable, productive, rural electricity demand in Africa, through an innovative mix of productive asset financing, training, and digital ID based technology.