Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Germany government is providing support to Uganda in the fight against environmental degradation and carbon emissions. This follows reports that there was increased destruction of forests since the lockdown was announced in March.
There are no updated deforestation figures for the period. But a survey on the economic survival of Ugandans shows that many resorted to cutting down trees for firewood or charcoal for sale during the time. There was also a marked increase in agricultural activities especially by low-income earners as people could no longer access their usual places of work due to travel restrictions while others lost their jobs.
The Germany Development Corporation-GIZ is now partnering with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda to financially support businesses involved in the manufacture and distribution of solar energy and cook-stoves. GIZ says the program dubbed the COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund for the off-grid solar and cookstove sector will support beneficiaries with finances to run their daily activities, including subsidizing the salaries of the employees.
“The project aims to mitigate the loss of energy access in Ugandan households and the losses of energy access companies in times of COVID-19, by temporarily covering the payments of installments for customers and covering companies expenditures,” says GIZ. It is also intended to give companies the opportunity and funding to invest in their company infrastructure for production and distribution as well as other areas that support upgrading their mid-to-long-term resilience.
The fund will also cater for the training of the beneficiaries and their staff on how to cope with crises like the pandemic by enhancing their resilience. Brenda Biteete, a projects manager at the PSFU explains that the staff salaries to be subsidized will be for those who were on the payroll by February 2020.
The solar energy beneficiaries will have to be those manufacturing and distributing, but also the pay-go or higher purchase customers of solar systems especially for institutions will have their prices subsidized.
However for cookstoves, the applicants will not include end-users according to Victoria Butegwa, Head of Component: Biomass Private Sector Support at GIZ in Uganda.
Companies and institutions can apply for support in the range of EUR 15,000 to EUR 100,000 (65 million to 438 million Shillings).