East Africa: Regional Research, Innovation Centre Launched in Makerere University
Makerere University has opened an East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as part of efforts to increase research and innovation in alternative energy sources in the region.
The initiative is supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the Austrian Development Agency.
Uganda recently launched two innovative energy efficient projects, the solar-powered Kayoola bus and the Kiira EV car.
“The centre is mandated to contribute to increased access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services,” said Irene Muloni, Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Minerals, at the launch of the centre at Makerere University in Kampala.
The increasing threat of global warming is fostering more innovation and investment in cleaner energy alternatives for lighting and transport systems. It is this investment potential that the centre is hoping to tap into.
Innovations and competition have driven down energy costs, as solar photovoltaic and wind energy are now among the cheapest electricity sources in many countries.
While much attention has been paid to Uganda’s prospects of becoming a mass producer of solar-powered buses, the launch of the Kayoola bus has thrust the country into the limelight, with Kiira Motors Corporation saying their product could spur more innovations in the energy industry.
Uganda is keen on promoting the use of solar as it seeks to expand rural electrification. While much emphasis has been given to undertaking huge hydro projects, the government is starting to prioritise solar power projects.
Solar power is not a new concept in the country as a number of households with no connection to the electricity grid have opted to install solar panels on top of their houses for their power needs.
Other renewable energy sources include bio-mass, wind energy, geothermal and hydropower.
According to the Ministry of Energy, the majority of households in the country still use charcoal to cook, which creates a huge demand for biomass.
The 2015 energy report for Uganda, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature says the country can meet 100 per cent of its energy needs using renewable power sources by 2050 if there is commitment from the government and sector players.
Ms Muloni said a large number of Ugandans still depend on environmentally destructive energy sources. She hailed the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the Australian Development Agency for supporting the centre.
The minister said the project will be a key driver in Uganda and the East African region for the adoption of renewable energy, especially with the increase in the degradation of the environment.
The minister appealed to development partners to continue supporting the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to enable it to achieve its mission and objectives and grow into a vibrant and sustainable organisation.
The Minister urged the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology at Makerere to involve various stake holders and partners in implementing the centre’s programme in a bid to further strengthen regional co-operation. It will also expand the renewable energy market, which will transform businesses and create more jobs.
The minister also pledged that her ministry will provide the necessary support to ensure that the innovations are of a high standard.
The World Environmental Day was recently celebrated on June 5 under the theme “Go wild for life: Zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade.”
East Africa has been pushing for the use of renewable energy and several laws have been effected in partner states like the ban on importation of second-hand cars.
source : allafrica.com