Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) aimed at seeing UPS transit from using firewood for cooking to using clean energy.
The MoU code named ‘Charcoal to Power Project’ was signed by ERA Chief Executive Officer Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako on behalf of ERA and a team from UPS led by Assistant Commissioner General in charge of special duties Akena Samuel alongside the Undersecretary Samuel Emiku who signed on their behalf.
Eng. Ziria said the MoU enables the formalization of the partnership between ERA and UPS in this pilot study. She said already, the same pilot project has been done at Mulago-Mwana Mugimu and that more entities will soon come on board as ERA moves to widen on use of electricity for cooking among institutions, private sector and households.
She said they looked at UPS because it is one of the highest consumers of wood in addition to the fact that prisons are good for sensitization since they are allover the country.
“This isn’t a temporary thing, it’s a permanent journey of transiting from wood to power. We shouldn’t be planning for lighting alone, but also for cooking. This initiative speaks to Greenism and clean energy. We are seeing abrupt changes in weather which wasn’t the case before! The reality is here with us. Mother nature says I can no longer sustain you, better look for alternative means” she said and attributed the weather changes to massive deforestation in search of wood for cooking. She said ERA has come up with very cheaper tariffs for cooking to encourage more people join the program.
Meanwhile, Akena says the signing of this MoU came after a recent study undertaken by UPS on use of electricity for cooking Visa Viz use of biomass. The study; he said, was done in Luzira where there are several Prisons’ facilities.
“We undertook a study at Luzira group of prisons, the training school and hospital. There are many prisons in Luzira and the issue of cooking is a big thorn. This study formed the basis for our decision to migrate from using wood” Akena said during the signing ceremony which took place at the ERA headquarters in Kampala Industrial area.
He said as UPS, they were very happy that ERA had come up with such initiatives aimed at not only saving the environment but also saving the lives of the people. He said UPS is no doubt one of the biggest degraders of Uganda’s environment because they rely on firewood to cook food.
“This is a very important landmark signing this MoU with ERA. We see a possibility of migrating from use of firewood. UPS all through have been using firewood as a mode of cooking. We are one of the biggest degraders of environment. We have over 250 prisons across the country and all of them are using firewood” he said, adding that this makes the energy demand of using firewood for cooking very high.
He said as UPS, they pray that this program of ‘COOK with ELECTRICITY’ as started by ERA will go a long way in reducing reliance on wood for fuel.
He said they are also certain that with the new arrangement, the operational costs in relation to cooking will reduce. He said for example, UPS uses 30000tons of wood annually which costs huge sums of money totaling to about 1.6bn.
He said the new program if it succeeds it will greatly help improve on the health of prisoners and staff, bring savings on costs in addition to reducing pressure on the environment.
“As UPS, we’re very delighted because we hope this will go a long way in reducing the huge bills we incur in cooking. It will also increase on consumption of electricity locally since there are deliberate efforts to improve on the energy sector. Many dams are coming on board. So, I encourage all of us to come together and save our environment” he said, but however, said UPS has, and continues to plant more trees to meet it’s biomass needs. He said UPS will continue to see the success of this project and hopes to rolls it out to all prisons around the country.