The acceptance of alternative forms of cooking fuel is still low throughout Uganda. Makers of energy saving stoves and briquettes, the option to charcoal, say their products are lying unpurchased in stores and markets around the country.
Fred Rwashana, innovator of the Rwashana Charcoal Stove, says he is fighting an uphill battle to sell his energy saving stoves and grass briquettes to supermarkets. He says initial appeals to supermarkets to sell the products fell on deaf ears.
The shops that accepted the Rwashana Stove were very few. Even when they were stocked, the product would stay for months on the shelves with little or no interest from buyers.
Rwashana says many of his intended customers are wary about the new technology. He says prefer to use old charcoal stoves and firewood, even in urban places, because they are still ignorant about the benefit of energy saving alternatives/
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Fred Rwashana says that despite the skepticism, the energy saving stoves can reduce costs, in the long run, and save the environment. He gives the example of one stove that he sold to Mbarara High School. It reduced firewood consumption there from more than 50 truck-loads per term to just 15 truck-loads.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, access to electricity in Uganda is still limited to less than 10 percent of the population. The remaining 10 percent of Ugandans use biomass fuels in form of firewood or charcoal for their energy needs.
The National Energy Policy promotes the use of other modern fuels and technologies. However there is concern that government isn't doing enough to encourage ordinary citizens to adopt alternative environmentally-friendly fuels.
Patrick Bisere's company, Prime Energy and Environment Savers, is one of the largest suppliers of rocket stoves in Uganda. Rocket stoves are mass heater wood-burning stoves. They are designed to burn small pieces of wood like twigs, wood scraps and small branches very efficiently, thereby saving on costs for firewood and charcoal.
Bisere says that over the past five years his company has produced only 93 stoves. This is just five percent of his expected output. He says government support in form of subsidies and institutional promotion would help increase his production and the sale of the stoves on the open market.
However John Kuteesakwe, Biomass Energy Coordinator at the German Development Cooperation says the solution isn't that simple. He says many Ugandans do not buy energy saving technologies because of the high price.
Kuteesakwe says that for the ordinary Ugandan using firewood or
energy saving stoves
national energy policy