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The West Nile Rural Electrification Company in Uganda: Generating hope for a brighter future

In north western Uganda, the AKDN has invested in off-grid energy so that this remote border region can benefit from affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity.

Over the last 10 years, the West Nile region in Uganda has been dramatically transformed. There are clear signs of socio-economic change, as well as improvements in security and regional stability. Its largest town, Arua, has thriving industries, better social services and a cleaner environment.

This transformation is testament to the role that access to reliable and affordable electricity plays in improving the quality of life in Arua district. The West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo), a project company of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, invested in a hydropower station that now provides electricity 24 hours a day.

Prior to the presence of WENRECo, there were only four primary schools, six secondary schools and four technical institutes receiving electricity in Arua municipality. Today, 18 primary schools, 16 secondary schools and 16 technical institutes are connected to the grid. Additionally, six new universities have been built.

Also, prior to the presence of WENRECo, the service industry – including restaurants and hospitality services – was rather stagnant, largely due to the absence of reliable and affordable electricity; and services, where available, were expensive. Since the commissioning of the hydropower project, there have been noticeable improvements in the service sector in Arua, including the opening of Internet cafés, car repair shops and hair salons. These businesses save significantly on costs now that they run on hydropower, as opposed to diesel power. The savings, in turn, are passed on to the customers, making products and services more affordable.