The Utilization of solar products for domestic and commercial purposes by households in Kitgum District has increased, according to the District Local Government achievement report for the last five years.
The report presented by the outgoing Kitgum District Chairperson Jackson Omona shows a total of 13,188 households were by the end of last year using off-grid solar products for lighting and other uses. It equally showed an increment of solar usage in the district by more than ten times from the 2,041 households surveyed in 2016 that were found to be using solar energy in rural and urban areas.
David Wany Oyok, the Kitgum District Senior Environment Officer told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the increased solar energy usage in the district is influenced by the inconsistent electricity supply by power distributor UMEME and high power tariffs.
He notes that the current shift to use solar energy products among the community members is a blessing to the natural resources which had been under attack. According to Oyok, the use of solar for lighting instead of local lamps has greatly helped to curb down fire outbreaks in homes and lung infections arising from inhalation of fumes from lamps.
Within Kitgum Municipality, there has been a boom in sales of solar products by several dealers spread across the three divisions of Pager, Central, and Pandwong.
Sam Samo, a businessman who deals in electronics and solar panels in Central Division says there has been increasing in the numbers of clients buying and making inquiries on his solar products. According to Samo, at least eight people on a daily basis buy solar panels, batteries, and solar-powered products like torches, radios among others from his shop. He says the consistent power outage in the district has further boosted the sales of solar panels.
Several businessmen within the Municipality have also picked up the use of solar to supplement the electricity they are connected to. Robert Sunday Opiyo, a Barbershop owner in Central Division is among the people who have been using solar energy to run his business for the last two years, and explains that prolonged power outages forced him to purchase a 150 Watts solar panel, a battery, and a power inverter which has since boosted his business.
He adds that his power bill has also reduced significantly from 100,000 Shillings monthly to 50,000 Shillings, and sometimes even less.
Kitgum, like any other district in the country still presents a fertile ground for alternative energy sources owing to the limited numbers of people with access to electricity.
Although the total number of electricity consumers in 2018 increased by 14.6 per cent from 1,372,166 consumers to 1,572,605 consumers in 2019 according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics-UBOS 2020 statistical abstract, 28 per cent of the population still have no access to electricity.