And this year’s event will be no different according to Eng. Abdallah Sekitoleko, the Head of the Solar Business at D&S.
With the abundant sunlight received in Uganda all year round, solar energy has become an attractive energy source compared to other sources such as fossil fuels or even renewables like biomass and hydro. This is because of the immense advantages as a clean, safe and readily available and reliable nature.
Indeed as Abdallah noted, more and more middle income earners are taking to solar systems thanks to the falling cost of solar systems as well as the zero-rated tax policy by the government.
And the industry has not disappointed on this front either. Besides falling prices for solar systems, a number of new solar innovations have hit the Ugandan market targeting a diverse clientèle ranging from the small rural farmer with an affordable solar lantern to the real big users such as government.
The introduction of the solar lantern by Davis &Shirtliff and other companies over the past few years has been a revolutionary measure in Uganda in many ways especially considering their low cost in view of high levels of poverty among the masses but also because of their portability.
Eng. Abdallah further noted one can obtain a solar lantern for a gate away price of Ushs 30,000. This low cost innovation has the potential to save hundreds of poor households the needless trouble of buying kerosene. And as we have witnessed many times, the widespread use of the Tadooba has come at a huge to the users and the country through frequent fire outbreaks that not only costs poor people their lives but also destruction of property.
In addition, experts say that the Tadooba is a silent killer in Uganda through its emission of dangerous indoor smoke that exposes over 65 percent of Ugandans who use them to respiratory illnesses.
Unfortunately however Abdallah observed many Ugandans are yet to adopt this clean and hugely cheap source of light thanks in part to the low levels of promotion especially by the relevant government bodies.
On the other hand, while a number solar equipment suppliers have focused on solar lighting kits, Davis and Shirtliff has gone a step further by venturing into the distribution of a wide range of other solar equipments such as solar water heating systems for both domestic and industrial purposes, solar powered water pumps and solar fridges.
One of the most outstanding innovations by D&S has been the Solar powered water pump. With years of experience in developing and installing water pumps in over 9 countries in East and Central Africa, the recent introduction of the Solar Powered Water Pump is a liberating move by D&S especially for millions of farmers.
Given the rising threat of climate change on agriculture in the region as well as the constant fluctuations in the prices of oil, the solar powered water pump is a perfect substitute for the noisy diesel generator for many practising and aspiring farmers.
There are immense advantages associated with the solar powered water pump according to Abdallah. Among them is the fact that with a solar water pump, one is saved the huge running and maintenance cost associated with buying fuel, replacement of parts and associated labour costs.
Granted, the initial cost of a solar water pump is higher than that of an ordinary generator, but the long term benefits compensate for the slightly higher lump sum cost one has to part with while procuring a solar water pump.
According to Eng. Abdallah, the smallest solar pump at D&S goes for UShs16m. This unit is able to pump up to 15,000 litres of water a day. He says that a generator option with comparable capacity would set you back some UShs19m, about 30% more.
However, a farmer would be able to realise his investment is a period of three years and there after use the facility at no cost. It is evident that in the long run, the solar powered water pump beats the generator user because he/she does not have to buy fuel or replace several parts worn out through daily use.
This is in addition to the fact that with a D&S solar water pump, one is assured of up to a full year’s warranty, according to Sekitoleko. This is backed-up by the vast technical capacity of their staff confirming their slogan that indeed there is no one who knows more about pumps than D&S.
Despite all its advantages, Solar still has a long way to go in Uganda the way many would expect. This is partly due to the widespread availability of substandard solar products on the market, according to Eng.Abdallah
Semi-skilled guys supply things that don’t work. So when trying talk to potential customers, they are always put off by bad experiences of solar units that have not worked elsewhere.
And of course, the absence of DC-powered or solar powered appliances on the market present obstacles as consumers always have to change their AC-powered appliances using an inverter.