Building a strong partnership has been one of the key strengths of the Utilities 2.0 project that has contributed significantly to its successful implementation. This was the key takeaway from a webinar titled“Building Partnerships for an Integrated Energy Approach: Experience from the Utilities 2.0 project, Uganda,'' held on May 5. Representatives of all the partner organizations shared their experiences in developing and managing partnerships that shaped the project's success, challenges faced, and lessons for scaling up or replicating the project across Africa.
The pilot project, also known as “Twaake” which means to light up in the local Luganda knowledge, has mobilized Umeme, the main electricity supplier in Uganda, and several decentralized solar energy companies to develop an integrated energy system to bring affordable electricity to unserved communities in the peri-urban and rural areas.
Speakers at the knowledge-sharing session included Peter Mwesiga from Umeme; Edwin Kwesiga from Energrow; Justine Heriniaina Radilof from East African Power and Charlene Nagawa from Equatorial Power. It was moderated by Sumaya Mahomed, Power for All’s Uganda Country Director.
Charlene from Equatorial Power noted partnering with a central utility like Umeme, which has a more prominent public profile, has helped the minigrid developer fast track regulatory authorization while working with EnerGrow, an appliance financier, had helped in business incubation and accelerated electricity demand. Justine from East African Power said the project benefited from Power for All's coordinating role, which connected all partners and facilitated them to focus on their strengths and areas of expertise.
Peter from Umeme pointed out that Energrow’s appliance financing increased the electricity demand and ensured the project went a step further beyond providing energy access. On his part, EnerGrow’s Edwin acknowledged that partnership with Umeme enabled the company to gain credibility with the customers and other actors in the energy industry. Moreover, Edwin said, partnering with Umeme’s data-driven business had helped them to understand the customers’ consumption patterns.
The webinar also discussed the challenges faced during project implementation. These included partners’ different operating environments and communication channels with customers. The webinar concluded by elucidating the scaling up approaches to deliver customer-centric clean energy solutions. These included grid planning, collaboration, transparency among all actors, and expanding training opportunities and funding were considered important for scaling and replicating the project. In summary, the dynamic and collaborative partnerships added value to the project and helped increase its visibility and gain the beneficiaries’ trust.