Uganda to continue exporting charcoal as it awaits unified position
Uganda is to continue exporting charcoal as it awaits unified position from all the responsible government agencies on the trade of charcoal in the country, James Banabe the Director for Energy Resources Management in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has said.
Banabe told journalists at the GIZ offices in Kampala that although charcoal production is under their docket, the Ministry cannot restrict its trade among the East African countries without the input of other government agencies responsible like that of environment, trade and Parliament of Uganda.
“Yes Uganda is exporting huge volumes of charcoal to Kenya and this may have a big impact on our environment but as ministry of energy, we cannot restrict charcoal export without cabinet and Parliament approval” He said.
Uganda is currently the source of charcoal to Kenya; the governments of Kenya banned charcoal production in Kenya on grounds that the country’s forest cover was being depleted at high rate and this could result to climate change and as a result it could affect other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, Energy among other sector.
He noted that charcoal is on high demand both in Uganda and Kenya since it’s the cheapest sources of Energy being used by the urban dwellers.
Banabe noted that for the demand for charcoal to go down there’s need for the urban dwellers to adopt other sources of clean energy available on the market such as bio gas and liquefied petroleum gas.
“Uganda being the source of charcoal for Kenyan has increased the demand for locally produced charcoal in Uganda thus pushing the energy prices up .Although the price has gone up, it has come with environmental challenges because huge forest depletion is taking place in most parts of the country.” Banabe said.
He noted that Uganda in collaboration with the government of Germany is working on various renewable energy projects across the country and that if these projects are well embraced, they will provide alternative sources of clean energy in the country thus solving the problem of over depending on biomass which has resulted into environmental destruction.
The Germany Ambassador to Uganda Dr, Albrecht Conze said Government should ensure that most Ugandans have access to renewable energy if the country’s forest cover is to be protected from massive destruction by charcoal burning.
“Uganda’s forest cover is getting depleted at a high rate due to charcoal burning and fire wood collection, the cheapest sources of energy in most urban towns. Government institutions such as Universities and Hospitals should consider promoting the usage of biogas which is more environmental friendly,“ He said.
According to statistics, Uganda’s total primary energy consumption matrix is dominated by biomass based energy sources with a share of about 90% used mainly in the traditional form (wood fuel) and charcoal and this is driven by limited access to clean energy in the country.
Access to clean cooking solutions in Uganda is still too low at around 10% yet the set target by 2030 is over 99%. Almost all the current intervention are addressing urban and peri-urban clean cooking yet over 70% of the Uganda population is rural hence creating a gap. Of the remaining 90%, over 78% of those in the rural are still using the traditional “three firestone cook stove while 80% of the urban dwellers are still using the metallic “Sigiri” cook stove associated with indoor air-pollution and inefficient consumption of biomass.
According to the secretary general of the Uganda National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Alliance (UNREEEA) , Virginia Ssemakula the problem is associated with lack of access to cheap financing, low Awareness about clean cooking energy efficiency technologies on the market alongside poor marketing and distribution networks for clean cooking.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO