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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


The absence of electrical utilities greatly impacts the lives of Ugandans. Without electricity many communities struggle to obtain the resources necessary to lift themselves out of a static state.

Rural communities have a genuine and justifiable need for electricity. These communities want to use electricity in relatively small quantities in order to: pump water, transport commodities, engage in income generating activities, practice modernized healthcare, and increase available light to extend work and leisure hours. Unfortunately, the road to achieving electrification is complex and costly.

Currently, Uganda’s electricity sector is in flux: after the passage of the 1999 Electricity Act private enterprise was introduced into all aspects of the sector. Since that time, problems with power theft, insufficient supply, geographic isolation, and high infrastructure costs have inhibited rural communities from gaining access to electricity.

This paper attempts to uncover some of the major challenges of making electricity accessible in Uganda, a developing country with a large rural population. Information was obtained through site visits, area appraisals, interviews with key informants, and general observation. The subsequent sections provide a reasonably extensive overview of the electricity sector in Uganda; foundational information that is necessary if one is to truly understand the electricity situation. Three case studies—Kamuli, Kalangala, and Kisiizi—snapshot rural electrification and its challenges. The final section contains recommendations for making electricity more accessible to rural Ugandans, based on the information gathered during the research period.


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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