by Johnmary Migadde, Uganda (PPRE 2012/14)

In March this year, I embarked on setting up a solar PV powered cinema (locally known as a kibanda) in a rural area called Kafumu located in Mpigi district, Central Uganda. The structure is made from local materials such as timber, polythene bags and re-used iron sheets, all obtained locally. In this kibanda, international football league matches particularly the English Premiership and UEFA champions’ league are shown to people in this area. The solar PV system consists of 300 Watt-peak modules with battery storage that is able to supply a 32 inch television, decoder, DVD player and sound system. The solar PV system powers all the equipment for at least 6 hours per day without need of a diesel generator.  In just a month of operation of the cinema, the face of this area has started to change. This point has become a meeting point for the villagers during the day and night since it is the only nearby trading centre with light and entertainment in the entire village. Previously, the villagers that wanted to watch football and the latest movies on television had to spend over 4000 Uganda shillings (approximately 1USD) to travel 6km to the next trading centre. This system is also used to charge at least 5 mobile phones a day saving over an individual over 4000 Uganda shillings (approximately 1USD) that was needed to travel over 6 kms just to charge a phone. The installation of the system has also enabled one of the villagers to establish a kiosk where he sells rolexes (chapatti bread rolled with fried eggs), drinks, and kikomando (chapatti bread mixed with beans) to those that come to watch football matches and movies.

More services are yet to be set up including provision of water from the surface wells pumped using solar PV, a local public address/announcement system, cold drinks from a refrigerator powered by solar PV among others.

I hope the setup of this system will be a reference point to other rural areas in Uganda that have no access to electricity that it is possible to improve the standard of living in such areas using renewable energy technologies, particularly solar PV.

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