Skip to Content

news | November 02, 2016 | Uganda | Development

Lowering emissions, empowering farmers: ACTED and Dreamshuttle receive global recognition for innovations in renewable energy and development in Uganda

ACTED, in partnership with Dream Shuttle Ltd, have developed the REPARLE project to support Uganda meet its COP21 emission reduction targets. REPARLE has received endorsement from both USAID Power Africa, and the governments of Germany and Uganda.

What is REPARLE?

The REPARLE (short for “Renewable Energy Powering Agriculture and Rural Livelihood Enhancement”) project uses agricultural waste to produce electricity through a process called biomass gasification. Biomass gasification works by heating biomass - in this case, agricultural waste - to produce an energy - gas that can be used to produce emissions free electricity. For the REPARLE project, 80% of this electricity will be used to power processing equipment for maize, rice and ground-nuts. Moreover, the remaining 20% of the electricity will be distributed, at an affordable cost, to households, who currently have no access to on-grid electricity.

What does this mean for Uganda’s farmers?

As the electricity is produced cheaply, using agricultural waste, the processing services can be offered to local farmers at rates significantly lower than market cost, allowing increased access to value addition services for their crops, and bigger profits. This project will allow farmers to store their produce at existing warehouses at the gasifier site, as well as providing a financing option for the poorest farmers to access the technology. A natural byproduct of biomass gasification is sustainable biochar, while any excess agricultural waste, which is not used in the gasifier, can be used to produce biomass pellets.

Biochar: supporting households, businesses, and the environment

Biochar can be used by large industry as a replacement for traditional charcoal, thereby slowing the deforestation associated with the production of charcoal in Uganda. Households participating in the project will receive gasifier stoves, and biomass pellets. The gasifier stove allows households to cook on a clean flame, while simultaneously carbonizing the biomass pellets. Cooking using the gasifier stove and the biomass pellets is significantly cleaner than traditional charcoal or kerosene, reducing the harmful household pollution associated with traditional cooking practices. The carbonized biomass pellets can be sold to industry as biochar, slowing deforestation while helping to meet business’ demand for fuel sources. Participating households will receive the biomass pellets for free, and receive a payment for the return of the biochar, after it has been used for cooking.

REPARLE and Convergences: the “Three Zero” Campaign

Launched in 2008, as a sister initiative to ACTED, Convergences is the first platform for thought in Europe that aims at building new linkages between public, private, and solidarity-based actors to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and the development of a world with “Zero Exclusion, Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty.” The Three Zero campaign, a core tenant of ACTED’s strategic programming for the coming decades, highlights the value of projects such as REPARLE. With projections suggesting that the eradication of poverty is possible by 2030, the goal of ‘zero extreme poverty by 2030’ is compelling. However, climate change may limit or even reverse these gains. It will hit the very poor hardest, making it tougher for those in extreme poverty to escape it, drawing the moderately poor back into extreme poverty.

REPARLE, with its focus on livelihood enhancement, combined with emissions reduction and climate-smart innovation, presents a real opportunity to impact all three zeros.

- “Zero Poverty”: Supporting fragile rural livelihoods will allow hundreds of thousands of farmers to increase their incomes, ensuring their chances of falling into poverty are significantly reduced.

- “Zero Carbon”: By producing emissions free electricity, and promoting the use of biomass gasification technology, as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels, REPARLE reduces the risk of farmers falling into poverty, as a result of the effects of climate change.

- “Zero Exclusion”: REPARLE will be located in the most rural regions of Northern Uganda, in areas with no access to the national grid, and in regions where subsistence farming is still the primary income source for most inhabitants. By investing in these marginalized regions, the project allows families access to the same services that would be available to them in more developed regions of the country.

REPARLE’s potential to be scaled, as well as its financial self-sustainability, make it a flagship program in the region for combining social impact, with return on investment. This means that as the project grows, it supports more farmers, contributes to increased emissions reduction, and provides more marginalized regions with improved access to electricity and agricultural technologies.

REPARLE is backed by USAID Power Africa

Launched by President Barack Obama in 2013, Power Africa’s goals are to increase electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa by adding more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, efficient electricity generation capacity, for 60 million new home and business connections. Power Africa works with African governments and private sector partners to remove barriers that impede sustainable energy development in sub-Saharan Africa and to unlock the substantial wind, solar, hydropower, natural gas, biomass, and geothermal resources on the continent.

Since May 2016, REPARLE has been recognized by Power Africa as a leading social business approach under this initiative, in both the fields of agricultural value addition and rural renewable electrification. As an endorsed Power Africa initiative, REPARLE is receiving extensive support in generating investment, refining project activities and enhancing social impact.

In Uganda, Power Africa focusses on bringing electricity to rural Ugandans, through the “Beyond the Grid” initiative. More information is available through this link.

REPARLE’s International Recognition

REPARLE has also been recognized by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Ministry for Development Cooperation (GIZ) through the “Practitioners Dialogue on Climate Investment” (PDCI). The PDCI was developed following the Paris Agreements, signed in December 2015, and aims to advance the understanding of how governments in developing countries and emerging economies can secure the participation of private businesses and the financial sector in climate-resilient and low-emission development. The PDCI facilitates exchange between senior policy-makers from developing countries and emerging economies and professionals from the business and financial sector.

REPARLE has been identified as the Ugandan prototype project, with the potential to support the Government of Uganda to meet its ambitious emissions reductions targets within the next 10 years. This recognition demonstrates the vast potential of REPARLE, as an innovative approach to reducing emissions in Uganda, and informing the dialogue on climate innovations worldwide.

Mandulis CEO, Peter Nyeko, presented at the 2nd PDCI conference, “Translating the Paris Climate Agreement into action: Engaging the private sector” in Bonn during May 2016, and will return to Stuttgart at the end of October to present the project at the second round of these discussions.

Details of the PDCI aims and progress, including information about Peter and REPARLE’s contribution to the proceedings, can be found here.

REPARLE presented at the 2nd Practitioners’ Dialogueon Climate Investments (PDCI) “Translating the Paris Climate Agreement into action: Engaging the private sector” 23 - 25 May 2016, in Bonn.

More info:

To know more, read "Disruptive Innovation: Energy Access in Africa", by Dream Shuttle CFO and Co-Founder Elizabeth Nyeko.

Interview with Mandulis CEO Peter Nyeko, and ACTED Programme Manager, Imogen Bryson, with Ugandan television channel, IdeaTV, regarding the social impact and entrepreneurship in the REPARLE project.

2 minute videos about the project, as previously implemented in a Cotton Ginnery in Western Uganda.