Making it Affordable to Turn on the Lights

Creating an affordable house-wiring kit that has the potential to bring electricity to millions of people in Uganda.

The Situation

Electricity in Uganda

Less than 15% of people in Uganda have access to electricity. The Government has engaged in significant infrastructure investments to expand access to electricity service throughout Uganda through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which has financed construction of over 20,000 kilometers of MV and LV distribution line and has facilitated connection of more than 120,000 consumers. Despite the advances in connectivity, the rural electricity access rate remains at about 10%.

The Challenge

Many factors influence the low access rate, to include high connection fees, lack of connection materials, and house wiring costs that are beyond the reach of many households that are close to the grid. To address this, in 2018 REA launched the Electricity Connection Policy to increase the number of connections from 70,000 to 300,000 per year, by financing service connection fees for households within 85 meters of low-voltage service.

Ugandans have access to prefabricated “ready boards” – a circuit breaker, light switch, lightbulb and a socket attached to a board. However, this inexpensive wiring option is viewed as a symbol of poverty and is unpopular. In addition, the ready boards can only light the room in which they are installed, and Ugandans don’t like the fact that the lightbulb is attached to a board on the wall rather than to the ceiling.

The Practical Solution

The NRECA International team created an affordable house-wiring kit that people would actually use. This kit is composed of parts that are readily available in Uganda, and that local electricians would be comfortable installing. The idea was to create a standardized, safe, low-cost package with no special-order parts, with the ability to add extensions to the kit’s junction box to power other rooms. And the lightbulbs can be installed on the ceiling.

By the Numbers