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Austria-based NGO to pilot solar energy project in Uganda-Kenya partnership

Uganda and Kenya are set to pilot the joint East African solar project through the Catholic dioceses of Gulu in northern Uganda and Ladwor in Turkana, Kenya aimed at addressing community clean energy needs. This is also a windfall for the energy ministry which has struggled to set up a similar project.

Austria-based NGO to pilot solar energy project in Uganda-Kenya partnership/Pexels

The project is being manned by the Austrian non-government development cooperation organisation Horizont 3000 under the name "Solar Pledge East Africa". The Austria-based organisation will then sustainably integrate solar energy into the all-power needs of the communities starting from households to public entities such as hospitals.

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According to Erwin Eder, managing director of Horizont 3000, the pilot phase will last two years with technical advisors from Austria ready to help in setting up the project.

While speaking at the launch at Fairway Hotel in Kampala over the weekend, Bishop Jonny Mbubi of the Catholic Diocese of Ladwor in Kenya said the project will enable them to turn the extreme weather conditions in the Turkana region into opportunities.

“The Turkana region witnesses extreme sunshine all throughout the year, we never get to see any clouds, only clear skies. Solar power, therefore, is the answer that will enable our communities to live better and more productive lives by harnessing the power of this resource that is available in plenty,” Mbubi said.

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Gulu Diocese Archbishop John Baptist Odama reiterated Mbubi's proclamation saying that his diocese needs all the support it can get in order to rebuild and preserve the environment after decades of war and destruction.

His diocese has over 300 primary schools supported by the Church, 39 secondary schools, 17 health centres, and 2 big hospitals that are in urgent need of such a project. He added that Solar Pledge East Africa provides a good opportunity for the area to fast-track its development efforts and catch up with the rest of the country.

The commissioner of renewable energy at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Brian Isabirye, said the project provides them with an opportunity to pilot a project they have been struggling to set up. He noted that having a renewable energy officer at the diocese will give a chance to the ministry to pilot a project that they have been struggling to put in place.

“This project is also innovative and the fact that it is going to look into partnerships will bring in religious leaders, development partners, missions, and leaders that will bring us together to discuss renewable energy. We believe in partnerships because we cannot do too much if we do not partner,” he said.

Isabirye revealed that the Energy Ministry has been looking at how they can leverage power in renewable energy and they appreciate the Church's initiative in driving transformation.

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“We see this project having a number of benefits for the country and the church. Embracing clean energy is key and having the church at the centre of this project is the right thing to do. Adopting clean energy and efficient practices around energy gives us an opportunity to support the vulnerable poor,” added Isabirye.

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