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East Africa’s Largest Solar Plant Starts Operations in Soroti

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Honorable D’Ujanga Simon, Minister of State for Energy, together with representatives of Access Power, EREN RE and donors celebrated the inauguration of the solar power plant in Soroti.

Made up of 32,680 photovoltaic panels, the new 10 megawatt facility is the country’s first grid-connected solar plant and will generate clean, low-carbon, sustainable electricity to 40,000 homes, schools and businesses in the area.

The project was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (“GET FiT”), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany’s KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA) and funded by the governments of Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The GET FiT programme helps renewable energy sources become more affordable and therefore more accessible in Eastern Africa.

L-R: - EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, Minister of State for Energy, ERA CEO Ziria Tibalwa, MP Soroti Herbert Ariko, Access Power Managing Director Vahid Fotuhi,

L-R: EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, Minister of State for Energy, ERA CEO Ziria Tibalwa, MP Soroti Herbert Ariko, and Access Power Managing Director Vahid Fotuhi commissioning the the solar power plant in Soroti.

The US$19 million Soroti Solar Plant is in part funded by the European Union – Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund through the GET FiT Solar Facility equivalent to 8.7 million euros in the form of result-based premium payments per kWh of delivered electricity.

The project is financed by a mix of debt and equity with the senior debt facility being provided by FMO, the Netherlands Development Bank, and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Uganda’s Minister of State for Energy, Ambassadors from the EU, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as key stakeholders from Access Power and EREN RE; TSK, the contractor who built the plant; FMO and Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) as financiers, and other key officials.

The H.E. Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda said in his speech: “Uganda is a good place to invest in solar energy. The regulatory framework is conducive and Government rightly recognises Uganda’s energy future must be renewable. It is great that this is now triggering private sector interest in solar power generation. The European Union is proud that our grant contribution ensures the realisation of the Soroti Solar Plant, and I hope this is only just the beginning for many more to come.”

The ERA Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Ziria Tibalwa noted, “that the Access Solar Uganda 10MW grid connected solar P.V project we are launching today is so far the largest in the East African region. We are so proud of this outcome of our stable and favorable regulatory environment that has produced such a leading project in the East African Region. We congratulate Access Solar and the people of Uganda upon this milestone.”

David Corchia, CEO, EREN RE, stated: “Soroti solar plant is an excellent textbook example of how collaboration among key local and international stakeholders can result in the successful execution and completion of such a ground breaking project and in tangible progress in the spread of renewable energy across Africa. We wish to express our gratitude and thanks to the organizations and individuals who made the construction of the largest solar power plant in East Africa possible. As a global renewable energy Independent Power Producer we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the African power sector and we look forward to replicating this model in many other African countries in other districts in Uganda and across the region.”

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman, Access Power declared, “We are thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with our European and Ugandan partners to bring to reality this flagship solar power plant. Soroti raises the bar on what can be achieved through teamwork and we look forward to more collaborative efforts to expand the footprint of clean energy across this mighty continent.”

Cross section of solar pannels in soroti.

Cross section of solar pannels in soroti.

Jennie Barugh, Head DFID Uganda on the impact of GET FiT:  “As an outward-looking nation, the UK fully supports Uganda in its effort to become a middle income country, with bilateral support of £110m this year. Power is an important enabler of development. GET FiT has helped to demonstrate the success of private sector led renewable energy projects; reducing costs to the government and increasing supply to help the people of Uganda to improve livelihoods and economic empowerment, especially for women and girls, so they can stand on their own two feet. Uganda has led the way in this sector and we expect other African nations to learn from and build on the successes of GET FiT. The Soroti plant is also one of the eight renewable energy projects in Uganda to have benefited from the UK Aid supported Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) – part of the multilateral Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). The UK is committed to supporting and improving the lives of Ugandans – with the vast majority (80%) living without access to clean modern energy – helping Uganda leave aid dependency behind.”

Linda Broekhuizen, CIO of FMO Dutch development bank, underlines the importance of the project: “FMO is a proud supporter of this project. Renewable energy projects like these are fully in line with our aim to positively affect peoples’ lives by supporting development, creating jobs and providing clean and sustainable energy to Uganda.”

Oscar Kang’oro, a Non-Executive Director of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) confirms EAIF’s commitment to supporting solar and small hydro power projects in Uganda: “EAIF is fully engaged in Uganda and to date financed 8 renewable energy projects in the country, including Soroti. I particularly want to congratulate Access and EREN on their vision and enterprise. Our funders at the UK government’s DFID, at The Netherlands DGIS, Switzerland’s SECO and Sweden’s SIDA, see the great benefits that small and renewable generating capacity can bring, particularly in rural and semi-rural areas. This can unlock economic potential, create new economic development opportunities, grow the productivity of public services and improve energy security. Most importantly, the arrival in a district of more dependable and more affordable electricity can transform and enhance the lives of many thousands of men, women and children.”

Located on a 33 acre plot of land in Soroti District, the power plant has the potential to increase its net output capacity by a further 20MW of solar energy. At peak construction the plant had over 120 local workers involved, including engineers recruited and trained by Access Power and EREN RE.

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MTN CEO PAYS COURTESY VISIT TO KING OF TORO DR. RUKIRABASAIJA OYO KABAMBA IGURU RUKIDI IV.

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MTN Uganda, led by the CEO Wim Vanhelleputte, at the weekend, paid a courtesy visit to the King of Toro, His Royal Highness Dr. Rukirabasaija Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV at his majestic palace, the Karuzika, overlooking Fort Portal town.

The CEO was on a three day visit to the Western Region to oversee MTN trade activities, visit key stakeholders and to officiate at the handover of the Out-patient ward of Kabarole Hospital refurbished by the MTN Foundation.

Wim was received at the Palace by the Minister of Planning in the Tooro Kingdom, Mr. Levi Musinguzi who offered the MTN guests a guided tour of the palace, while sharing important information on the Kingdom’s history, artifacts, various cultural practices and norms. He also showed off Toro Kingdom landmarks such as the Tooro Kingdom Parliament, viewed in the distance from the Palace.

Later, His Royal Highness King Oyo warmly welcomed the MTN team to the Kingdom of Tooro. While congratulating MTN on its 20 year anniversary, he also acknowledged the development the company has caused throughout the country since it started its operations.

 

“I thank you especially for giving the youth various opportunities for employment both directly and indirectly through your services. The youth, as you may be aware, form a greater percentage of our population. They are the back bone of this nation,” said the King, while noting that part of the MTN guests were youth.

CEO Wim conveyed warm greetings to the King on behalf of the entire MTN Uganda management and staff.

“The MTN leadership team was in the Tooro sub region for a visit to the MTN traders. We conduct these countrywide trade visits regularly to check on the performance of MTN,” Wim explained. Adding, “While here, we held strategy meetings, visited our dealers and crowned our visit with a corporate social responsibility activity at Kabarole Hospital where the MTN Foundation handed over a refurbished Out Patient Ward and donated hospital equipment.”

Noting the good performance of MTN in the region, Wim said, “We are working closely with the Tooro Prime Minister to seek ways in which MTN Uganda can forge a stronger partnership and actively collaborate with the Kingdom to support her various developmental projects for the benefit of her subjects and the entire Toro Sub region.”

King Oyo welcomed the partnership, while extending a special invitation to MTN to participate in the activities leading up to Tooro Kingdom’s coronation anniversary “Empaango” celebrations scheduled for 8th September 2018.

At the end of the visit, CEO Wim caused excitement when he led the team in prostrating before King Oyo. The King gave the CEO Wim ‘Acaali’ as his ‘empaako’ or pet name.

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Eddy Kenzo lands mega tourism deal

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BET International award winning artiste Eddy Kenzo is in for big things this year.

The star who rose to international recognition thanks to his ‘Sitya Loss’ jam has landed a mega tourism deal with Uganda Wildlife authority as the official ambassador for tourism in Uganda and the world.

The deal comes hot on the heels of a similar deal that he had in Kenya where he was charged with promoting tourism in the popular tourist destination for many international visitors.

While announcing the new appointment, Uganda wildlife through their Twitter handle said that it was an exciting moment for them to announce Kenzo as their new representative. They also noted that Kenzo will unleash to the world Uganda’s unique wildlife and promote Uganda’s tourism destinations.

An ecstatic Kenzo then revealed that he is going to do his best to make sure that he sales Uganda to the world. He said; ‘I will work hand in hand with all the different tourism departments to promote our country and it’s tourism attractions.’

Well done Eddy Kenzo. Keep the Ugandan flag flying high.

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MTN Uganda revamps Kabarole Hospital, donates hospital equipment

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Wim Vanhelleputte the CEO MTN Uganda hands over part of the beds, blankets and mosquito nets to the staff of Kabarole Hospital.

Wim Vanhelleputte, the CEO MTN Uganda hands over beds, blankets and mosquito nets to the staff of Kabarole Hospital.

MTN Uganda Foundation has handed over the revamped out-patient department (OPD) block of Kabarole Hospital Church of Uganda (C.O.U) and donated hospital equipment to benefit hundreds of patients who frequent one of Western Uganda’s busiest public hospitals.

During the handover ceremony, 10 hospital beds, 10 hospital mattresses, 10 hospital blankets and 10 mosquito nets were received by officials from the Ministry of Health and Kabarole Hospital.

This activity was done as part of the corporate social responsibility efforts of MTN Uganda carried out by its humanitarian arm, the MTN Uganda Foundation.

Speaking at the event, the MTN senior leadership was excited by the potential impact the donation will make to bring about long lasting change to Ugandans through provision of health care equipment.

“As part of the Access to Health Care initiative project, it is our aim as MTN Uganda to support the delivery of better quality health services to all across Uganda through the provision of hospital equipment” said MTN Uganda’s CEO, Wim Vanhelleputte, who was in Fort Portal to officiate at the event.

Access to quality health services is enshrined in the Goal Number 3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The nine goals were developed in order to direct the path for development around the world.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the third SDG is “Good health and well-being” which targets “access to quality essential health-care services” for all.

“Our donation today is small but will go a long way to assist each and every patient who comes here to get better treatment by ensuring their stay here is made as comfortable as possible in order to aid their full healing and recovery” said MTN Uganda’s CEO, Wim Vanhelleputte.

The ‎Senior Manager Corporate Affairs at ‎MTN Uganda, Ms. Justina Ntabgoba-Kayemba, praised the work done by the staff of Kabarole Hospital, which has been in existence for almost 115 years, in delivery of health services to residents of Fort Portal.

“We congratulate the Kabarole Hospital staff for the great work done towards provision of outreach services, core clinical services, community health services and medical operational services. This donation will rejuvenate them to carry out their duties better”, she said.

The Medical Superintendent Kabarole Hospital, Mr. Edward Mugisha noted that the donation will enable the private-not- for-hospital become more self-sustaining and deliver affordable healthcare.

“The hospital is reliant on donor funding but this has been declining. The funds are used to cover utilities and provide for the staff leaving less money for us to finance our several infrastructure projects. This donation and renovation frees some resources to ensure we deliver affordable healthcare.”

The event was part of various corporate social responsibility activities carried out by MTN Uganda Foundation whose main objective is to improve the quality of life in communities across the country by supporting and implementing sustainable projects in education, health, art and sciences, sports and other national priorities.

Last month, Valery Okecho, Corporate Communications Manager, handed over 30 beds, ​30 ​mattresses, ​30 ​bedsheets, ​30 ​blankets and ​30 ​mosquito nets to the State Minister for Health (General Duties) Hon. Sarah Opendi and the Commissioner of Curative Services in the Ministry of Health Dr. Jackson Amone. The donations were given to benefit the services of Bwera Hospital in Kasese.

The MTN Uganda Foundation Access to Health Initiative (AHI) will see 500 hospital beds, 500 mattresses, 500 blankets and 500 nets be given out to hospitals around the country.

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