Counterfeit solar panels stand to destroy confidence in Uganda’s clean energy transition journey

In Summary
  • Fake solar equipment on market discourages clean energy uptake
  • Government urged to fight against fake solar panels that have flooded Uganda's market.
  • The three day conference attracted govt officials and it's partners.
Ivan Tumuhimbise, country director for World wide fund Uganda while addressing stakeholders attended the energy conference and expo held at Speke resort Munyonyo
Image: WWF

KAMPALA – The rise of counterfeit solar panel sellers, batteries from unknown sources, and untrustworthy installers is jeopardizing the trust in Uganda’s clean energy transition journey, experts have said.

Speaking at the Renewable Energy Conference held at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Mr. Ivan Tumuhimbise, the country director for World wide fund Uganda said the current rise of unscrupulous sellers taking advantage of the eagerness of Ugandans to adopt solar energy must be halted.

He admits that the market is flooded by sub-standard solar panels and that the habit is going unchecked. He urged the government through the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to urgently knock off solar panel sellers exploiting unsuspecting consumers.

He said counterfeit solar systems are already discouraging many people from using renewable energy products.

“If you acquire a solar system and it’s not working, and they don’t have after-sales service or guarantees, then it means you’re going to be discouraged and all the people around you are likely to be discouraged from buying solar systems,” Mr. Tumuhimbise said.

In the wake of the current rise in counterfeit and poor quality products that are flooding the market, I implore government to be vigilant and educate solar consumers,” he added.

During panel discussion on clean energy transition in the country
Image: Wwf

Solar power has emerged as a promising solution, not only to reduce the carbon footprint and ensure homes and businesses can operate but solar solutions also allow Ugandans to save on energy bills and contribute to energy independence.

Uganda has abundant sunlight, making it an ideal environment for solar power generation.

James Kakeeto, the world wide fund Uganda -WWF regional energy officer  said it’s important that the country puts the right enabling environment in place to ensure that Uganda assumes the 100% renewable energy goal.

“For Uganda to realize our target of achieving 100% renewable energy by the year 2050, it is important that we put the right enabling environment to ensure that we achieve those goals. The right enabling environment means the right policies that will make it conducive for the renewable sector to grow. That includes regulations that attract financing, to make it conducive for investors to invest their money in renewable energy. At the same time, not only foreign-invested investments but even financial flows,” he added.

Kakeeto also urged the government to fund local innovations that promote renewable energy.

“We need to research and fund local innovations including encouraging local production or assembly of solar panels and batteries. We can look at other incentives like tax holidays, and tax waivers that will allow these solar products to be affordable within the country.” Kakeeto said.

A high percentage of Uganda’s energy consumption comes from renewable sources, but mainly from traditional firewood and charcoal.

Modern renewables accounted for only 22% in 2020. So, a rapid transition towards renewable energy, and bioenergy in particular, is needed to avoid further deforestation, emissions, and health risks.

The Government of Uganda has already recognized the importance of addressing climate change and has implemented policies in this regard, for example, Uganda’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative Action Agenda. However, there is a need for further measures, strategies, and investments, particularly concerning the use of biomass. To ensure a sustainable energy supply for all Ugandans, it is crucial to diversify the energy mix.