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Uganda Tackles Power Crisis with Energy-Saving Bulbs

Uganda will distribute 800,000 energy-saving light bulbs to poor households in a bid to tackle a crippling power shortage and lower energy demand, an official said on Thursday.
German lamp manufacturer Osram had won the contract to supply the bulbs in the first phase of a campaign to reduce pressure on the east African country's scare power resources.

Uganda generates most of its energy from hydroelectric turbines on the Nile river, but rising demand plus a recent drop in the water levels of Lake Victoria, the Nile's source, have sparked power shortages and load shedding.

Officials say Uganda's dams produce around 140 MW at current lake levels, leaving a shortfall of around 160 MW.

Baanabe said taxes on energy efficient bulbs - which included a 25 percent import duty and 18 percent VAT - had been scrapped in Uganda's last budget, reducing their cost by nearly half.

He said energy saving bulbs would free up 30 megawatts (MW) of energy capacity if load shedding continues, but he added that savings would increase as power rationing eases.

"Each bulb uses one sixth of the power a normal bulb uses. We could even save about 50 MW, if load shedding stops."

Energy saving strategies are becoming a key weapon in the fight against global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

Some experts blame surface evaporation linked to global warming for Lake Victoria's falling water levels.

"With our power crisis, we've been using (petroleum) generators," Baanabe said. "But instead of throwing out more carbon (into the atmosphere) we should be saving energy."

Additional information:
News date: 09/02/2007

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