Uganda’s off-grid power ambitions are to receive an $11m boost from the US, according to US government initiative Power Africa.

The funding will be distributed through the newly-launched Power Africa Uganda Electricity Supply Accelerator, which aims to grow Uganda’s off-grid power capacity by 1000 MW and to support 1,000,000 new connections by 2020.

The US embassy in Uganda said the Accelerator scheme builds on existing support for the country’s Rural Electrification Agency and Electricity Regulatory Authority. This support has aimed to boost electricity access and improve the regulatory framework for mini-grids.

Announcing the initiative at the Uganda Solar Energy Association Expo last week, US ambassador Deborah Malac outlined additional programmes to support continued growth in energy access.

Solar home systems can contribute greatly to national development,” she said. “With solar energy, we can power irrigation systems; we can store medicine in rural health centres; and we can improve the quality of education children receive.”

Also at the expo, the UK’s Department for International Development announced the launch of a one-year project to build the capacity and independence of Uganda’s Solar Energy Association (USEA).

Delivered through the UN’s Capital Development Fund, the project aims to establish an independent and ultimately self-financing USEA secretariat, as well as putting services in place for USEA members.

According to the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, electricity access in Uganda stands at over 70 per cent of the population in urban areas, but is only 8 per cent in rural areas.