May 30, 2024

Ugandan Hospital Elated With Solar Energy Benefits

Ndejje Health Center IV in Uganda, previously experienced frequent power outages, hindering surgical operations and midwifery. The installation of affordable and accessible solar panels has transformed the facility, ensuring continuous services crucial for maternal care and vaccine storage.

Solar Power: Affordable and Accessible


Ndejje Health Center IV, a hospital serving 40,000 people in Uganda's central district of Wakiso, used to suffer from frequent power outages. Surgeons would get stuck in the operating room, and midwives had to use phone lights during deliveries.

However, the situation has improved significantly with the installation of solar panels, according to the health centre's manager, Geoffrey Kisuze. Solar power, now more affordable and accessible, ensures uninterrupted services, which are vital for maternal care and vaccine storage.

Since installing solar power, the health centre has been able to address the challenges of an unreliable power supply. Previously, they could go a week without power, causing vaccines to spoil. With solar power, they can consistently maintain the cold chain for vaccines.

Saving Lives With Solar Power


Phiona Happy, a mother of two living in nearby informal settlements, found the solar lighting at the health facility very helpful when she gave birth to her first child, now three years old. She had complications during childbirth, and since it was at night, there was no ambulance to transfer her to a larger hospital. Despite the power outages, the solar lighting enabled the medics to perform a successful cesarean section.

Additionally, her routine visits for her children's immunizations have been smooth, as she is confident in the safety of the vaccines due to the solar-powered storage facilities at Ndejje.

I encountered issues while giving delivery, and because it was at night, there was no ambulance to take me to a larger hospital," Happy explained. "Despite the power outages at the time, the solar lights assisted the medics in successfully performing the caesarean section.

China's Role in the Solar Project


Solar energy is making significant strides across Uganda, powering health centres and supporting agricultural innovations like solar-powered water pumps and home lighting solutions. At Ndejje Health Center IV, manager Kisuze mentioned that the solar panels and batteries installed on nearly all buildings are sourced from China.

China's solar exports to Africa surged by 187 percent in the first half of 2023, according to Ember, an energy think tank. Experts have refuted the narrative of "overcapacity" in China's green industry, emphasizing that Chinese solar technology and products are benefiting low-income countries, particularly in off-grid areas.

Peter Tonui, head of policy and regional strategy at the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association, stated that China has been crucial in promoting solar power in sub-Saharan Africa, where many people live without access to electricity. He noted that most solar units in Africa, including panels and components like batteries, are either manufactured in China or utilize Chinese technology.

Harnessing the Vast Solar Resources in Uganda


Brian Isabirye, commissioner of renewable energy at the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, highlighted Uganda's vast solar energy potential and the country's goal to increase its electrification rates, currently among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, using solar power.

As part of Uganda's generation strategy, the country plans to produce up to 12,000 megawatts (MW) from solar by 2040. “Looking at around 52,000 MW general generating (in plan) across the country, solar will be the second most important source, behind nuclear energy,” stated Isabirye.

Uganda's Electricity Regulatory Authority reports that the country's total installed capacity will reach 1,847.5 MW by 2023. Hydropower accounted for 1,510.9 MW (81.8%), followed by bagasse (8%), thermal (5.4%), and solar photovoltaics (4.8%).

The affordable installation of solar panels at Ndejje Health Center IV has vastly improved operations, ensuring continuous maternal care and vaccine storage, showcasing the broader impact of solar energy in Uganda. This transformation, driven by increasing solar technology imports from China, underscores the vital role of clean and reliable energy in Uganda's development, as highlighted by the country's ambitious plans to significantly increase solar power by 2040.


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