ATUHAIRE OLIVE: We can promote clean energy by supporting briquette makers

On February 14th, daily monitor reported that the briquette makers are appealing to the government to support their products through deliberate promotion of clean energy sources to save the environment.

Mr. Fredrick Ssendagire who has been making briquettes since 2017 noted that their products face a big market challenge which is absurd and the government needs to really look into this since briquettes are part of clean energy and can help the country archive its SDG 7 of affordable and clean energy.

Last year, President Museveni signed an executive order banning tree cutting for commercial charcoal production which was a good gesture for environmental conservation. However, little attention and support was given to alternative clean energy for people to use which left them in miseries. Therefore, to successfully enforce the presidential directive, the government must sensitize and support clean cooking alternatives that is cheap and available like briquettes, solar and many others to protect our environment and improve on people’s welfare.

Earlier this months, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Ruth Nankabirwa launched the Electricity Access Scale up projects (EASP) in Mitooma District which is said to be a 2.4 trillion co funded with the world bank and seeks to increase energy access where she noted that all Ugandans will have full access to electricity by 2030 through both the grid and off grid connections.

However, people may not access this grid power due to the high power tariffs imposed on it especially the vulnerable in rural areas which means briquettes can be the better alternative for people to use if they are sensitized about it.

Briquettes are more efficient than charcoal due to their increase in heating value (High Calorific Value: around 4000-4600) and can relatively produce more intense heat than other fuels. Briquettes also burn more reliably than other biomass fuel like charcoal and firework and they can burn at a constant temperature which makes them efficient for people to use especially rural people who depend on biomass that totals 98% of the population relying on biomass as the major source of energy in Uganda which is a key challenge towards environment protection and have some negative health consequences on people.

The fact that majority people in rural areas use biomass for domestic use and cook from indoors with no chimneys and any ventilation, this exposes them to smoke leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary health disease which put their lives at stake. That’s why there is a need to sensitize people on briquette use to improve on their health and conserve our environment.

The availability of briquettes as the energy alternative source presents a great opportunity for Uganda to get rid of fossil fuels.  However, I feel it is so challenging for Ugandans to utilize these briquettes without the government’s sensitization and low investments towards them.

Therefore, the minister of energy should consider supporting briquette makers through sensitizing people on how clean briquette use is as she increases access to off grid energy. Overall, the government should therefore support briquettes use through sensitizing the masses on how clean they are to promote clean energy.

This can reduce reliance on traditional fossils that contribute to global efforts to combat climate change and mitigate environmental degradation associated with deforestation and pollution from conventional fuels. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels leads to improved air quality, reducing respiratory illnesses and healthcare costs hence improving on people’s welfare. Furthermore, increasing investments in briquettes will be a proactive step towards a sustainable and environmentally responsible future while yielding economic and societal benefits in Uganda.

Olive Atuhaire is a Research Associate

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