Solar Home Systems (SHS) supply customers with power for lighting, cell phones, radio/TV and small electrical appliances. A SHS consists of a solar panel, a battery and a regulator. The FRES Uganda company was initiated at the start of 2011 and is now installing SHS’s in several districts in close partnership with the Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Rural Electrification Agency.

FRES Uganda Ltd will be officially inaugurated on February 20, 2013, by the Minister of Energy and Minerals.

FRES Uganda

FRES Uganda is run by a local management, headed by a General Manager. SHS’s are now being installed in the Districts of Mbarara, Isingiro, Sheema, Mitooma, Buhweju, Rubirizi and Bushenyi. With 1000 clients and an average household size of 10, over 10.000people benefit from solar power.

From January 2013 FRES Uganda has been authorized to extend into the districts of Ntungamo, Ibanda and Kiruhura. FRES Uganda intends to achieve 10.000 clients in 2017, serviced by a network of 14 Energy Stores.

The FRES business is based on the fee-for-service concept. The customer pays a monthly fee according to their chosen level of electricity supply. On average a customer is charged with an amount of € 6 – 15 per month, which is often less than the costs of traditional lighting by candles or kerosene. FRES covers the initial capital investment costs and is responsible for operation and maintenance.

Boosting (economic) development

The SHS’s give a boost to rural economic and social development, in a number of ways. New hair cutting salons, mobile phone charging, video halls and secretarial shops have emerged. In schools use of expensive diesel generators have been replaced by electrical bulbs, facilitating teaching in the evening and doing homework at night. In homes, replacement of oil lamps and candles improves local health conditions and diminishes the risk of accidents.

A wider outlook

FRES Uganda’s one thousand clients mark only the beginning of a much wider expansion. Worldwide, approximately 1.5 billion people do not have access to electricity. In the case of Uganda, only 8% of the rural population has access to electricity. As such, the UN declared 2012 as the ‘Sustainable energy for all’ year. The FRES-approach has proven to be a good concept for rural electrification and development. This is acknowledged by the World Bank and other national and international donors, who are financing some projects in order to stimulate a wider access to electricity and the associated socio-economic benefits that result.