Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has rolled out regional awareness campaigns targeting solar energy consumers and dealers ahead of their proposed crackdown on substandard products in the next financial year.
On Tuesday, UNBS held an intense civic discourse with over 150 entrepreneurs; solar energy consumers and dealers in Gulu City drawn from Acholi and Lango sub-regions to sensitize them on quality, standards and requirements for solar products.
After the nationwide sensitization, the UNBS’ Market surveillance team will start enforcing the standards across the country to seize and destroy non-compliant solar products. Solar energy consumers have been complaining of inferior solar products on that market that do not reflect value for money.
Simon Kilama, a solar energy consumer from Nwoya District welcomed the initiative but castigated the Bureau for taking too long to enforce the standards. Godfrey Akena, the Chairperson Omoro Town Council Business Community Association wondered why non-compliant products are allowed in the country.
Geoffrey Oceng Osborn, one of the solar energy consumers in Amuru District revealed that he was duped to buy two solar panels with a warranty of one year but kit could barely light his home for two hours after being installed.
Richard Mwesigwa, the Acting CEO of Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) observes that non-compliant solar products on the market are hampering the Government’s attempts to promote universal access to clean energy in the country.
Andrew Othieno, the Standards Development Manager at UNBS told URN that the regional public awareness campaign is aimed at accelerating access to electricity or solar energy in line with the Vision 2040 that targets to ensure that 80% of the population have access to power.
Benon Bena, the Manager Local Energy under the Rural Electrification Agency – REA a statutory body of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, said the awareness campaign is intended to ensure consumers get quality products that match value for money.
The bureau will hold several meetings in Mbale, Mbarara and Kampala cities ahead of the enforcement of standards approved by the Board in December 2020. In its 2020 survey report, the Bureau indicates that 70% of the solar energy products marketed in Uganda do not conform to the quality standards recognized by the International Electro technical Commission (IEC) and Lighting Global Standards.
The 2019 Uganda Bureau of Statistics – UBOS report reveals that only 51% of Ugandans are currently accessing electricity. 24% have access to the national grid while 27% access it off-grid.