Kampala tackles the issue of household access to electricity

Published: 21 Jun 2023
Access to Energy
Kampala tackles the issue of household access to electricity

Access to energy in households in Kampala

Uganda has one of the lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in the world.[1] Generation capacity is dominated by hydropower, supported by heavy fuel oil and biomass cogeneration power plants. Nonetheless, Uganda is richly endowed with renewable energy resources for energy production and the provision of energy services.
These resources, however, remain largely unexploited, mainly due to the perceived technical and financial risks. Hydro and biomass are considered to have the largest potential for electricity generation. In Kampala, households regularly use firewood as their primary energy source. Not only is the use of charcoal less sustainable, in a cooking context, it is also a source of pollution.
With the financial support of the European Union (EU) and the technical assistance of Expertise France, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) led a study on access to energy in households. The study interviewed 1,500 participants in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) to collect data on 9 standard indicators of clean cooking, as recommended by the JRC guidelines on assessing access to energy. The survey identified several trends in the types of energy used by respondents.


On-grid and off-grid energy usage:

All households use electricity for lighting and phone charging, 83% used it for entertainment (TV and radio), and 78% for ironing clothes. Other uses of electricity in homes included cooling i.e., fridge or fan (33%), boiling water i.e., electric kettle (17%), and cooking (11%).
Off-grid electricity solutions are playing an increasingly important role in expanding access to reliable and affordable electricity in the GKMA, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas where grid electricity access is limited. Some examples of off-grid electricity solutions in the GKMA include solar home systems. Despite this, the study indicated that many solutions for productive use, such as solar PV systems and biogas digesters, have high upfront costs that are prohibitive for small-scale enterprises and households.
Barriers to sustainable energy sources amongst participants in the study

 Source of energy for households:

Most of the participants use biomass (charcoal, firewood, and crop residues) for cooking. Charcoal is a very intensive energy resource, easy to transport, and is a main source of energy for 77% of all households, followed by firewood (27%). Despite a high level of awareness (93%) among households of improved cookstove technologies and the benefits derived from their use, the level of adoption is still low as only 51% of households reported using improved cookstoves.
Sources of energy for cooking in households in the study


The study provided several recommendations to improve access to and usage of sustainable energy sources:
  • Policy reforms to create an enabling environment for the adoption of clean energy technologies and improve energy access in the GKMA. An official interview in the study observed, “the absence of clear policies and regulations that support the adoption of clean energy technologies and practices is a major hindrance.” Reforming regulations could include streamlining the process for obtaining permits to install renewable energy systems, as well as creating a more competitive market for renewable energy providers and access to finance.
  • To improve the energy supply chain: This includes upgrading the energy infrastructure, particularly in the areas of transmission and distribution, to minimise powercuts. In addition, improving the monitoring and control systems to increase the reliability of the energy supply is important to increase usage. Finally, strengthening energy regulation to provide electricity to poorer more remote areas needs to be improved.
  • To strengthen the energy demand chain to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and ensure that energy is used in a sustainable and cost-effective way. It requires a combination of policy, education, and market-based approaches. One participant mentioned that “to increase access to clean cooking energy, target populations need to be taught on the different clean cooking practices, sensitized with demonstrations.” This could involve developing educational campaigns on energy conservation, conducting energy audits for households and businesses, and promoting the use of energy-efficient practices in schools and universities.
  • To strengthen the coordination framework as there is a shortage of technical expertise in clean energy technologies and practices both at institutional and individual levels, hence limiting abilities to design, implement, and maintain clean energy effectively. Recommendations include the foundation of an access to energy task force, strengthening institutional capacity, and the development of an access to energy plan.
KCCA will able to use the study as a guide for policy implementation in future and other organisations will be able to use the information to guide best practice.


[1] According to the 2019 final energy report commissioned by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sign up to our newsletter

By filling in this form you are agreeing to the ICLEI Africa Privacy Policy

Please enter your name Please enter a valid name
Please enter your surname Please enter a valid surname
Please enter your city Please enter a valid city
Please enter your country Please enter a valid country
Please enter your email Please enter a valid email address