One district in Uganda is doing something incredible for its people and the environment while giving more developed countries around the world a run for their money. Mayor Godfrey Baluku Kime plans to make the Kasese district in Uganda 100-percent powered by renewables by 2020, years ahead of the goals of most other governments on the planet. The renewable energy project launched in 2012, when authorities decided to make a commitment to clean energy in a big way. By making renewable energy a requirement for all government-funded projects and offering perks to help business owners go green, Kasese and the surrounding areas on are on target to hit the 2020 goal.
Kasese has an estimated 134,000 households, and right now only around 7.6 percent of those – or a little more than 10,000 homes – have access to the national electric grid. In order to expand access, the mayor says the government is focused on renewable sources of energy including biomass, solar, geothermal, and micro-hydroelectric power generators. In an area where existing infrastructure is sparse, it’s relatively easy to make smart investments in renewable energy to keep costs low and help protect local peoples from the immediate effects of climate change.
The mayor acknowledges the connection between access to electricity and a higher standard of living, and also looks forward to seeing people in his region enjoy other benefits of widespread electricity, such as improved public health. Only three years into the project, Kime estimates that 26.8 percent of the Kasese district is already powered by renewables, which also means that tens of thousands of people now have access to clean electricity who were previously without power entirely.
In order to keep the project afloat, the government is also extending tax credits to renewable energy-related businesses. By making a regional commitment to renewable energy, to save costs as well as increase efficiency, the mayor hopes to set an example for other communities in Uganda, in other African nations, and elsewhere in the world.
As a comparison, there are only three cities in the United States currently powered completely by renewables. Due to existing power infrastructure and political resistance to turn away from Big Oil, getting U.S. cities to switch to renewables is a bigger challenge than it is for a smaller town in Uganda. Yet, slow progress is being made. Hawaii seeks to become completely powered by clean energy by 2045, and many believe the entire country could be 100-percent renewable-powered by 2050.
With any luck, world leaders will come to some agreements on new global goals for renewable energy targets at the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris in December, helping pave the way for further green innovations around the globe.
Via The Guardian
Images via N. Chifamba/WWFUganda and Barefoot Power Uganda/Facebook