Owino Market Vendors benefit from Solar Power Installation

April 18, 2024

Nakigozi Susan at her store in Owino market

UNDP Uganda

Everyone needs access to sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy by 2025 if we are to accelerate progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For the last 50 years, unreliable and high electricity costs have been a major challenge to women market vendors in St. Balikuddembe Market (Owino Market). This has resulted in limited operating hours, hindering product display and preservation, ultimately affecting market attractiveness, and causing potential health risks.

However, that’s all changing. Market vendors like Nakigozi Susan can now work safely for extended hours and increase their profits thanks to the installation of solar lighting within and around the marketplace. These illuminate previously dark areas, from trading zones to pathways and entry gates without a cost.

Solar lights power Owino Market after dark

UNDP Uganda

Previously vendors like Susan had limited working hours as market gates closed at 7:00 pm, restricting their ability to capitalize on sales opportunities. "The unreliable and expensive electricity limited our work," Susan says. "But thanks to UNDP and KCCA for these solar lights, I can now choose to start at 3:00am and work until 8:00pm, going home safely with an extra 150,000 shillings in profits."

This partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) provided over 226 solar lights and repaired over 2,200 square meters of market surfaces. This initiative is supporting over 20,000 women vendors.

Dr. Dorothy Kisaka, Executive Director KCCA (middle left), Ms. Elsie Attfauah, former UNDP Resident Representative (middle right) and Ms. Sheila Ngatia, UNDP Deputy Resident Represenatative (far right) pose for a photo at one of the solar battery stations during the launch.

UNDP Uganda

Lighting the market and upgrading its surfaces brought significant benefits beyond safety and working hours. It has empowered women and marginalized groups like youth to operate extended hours, fostering a better trade environment and improved experience for both vendors and customers. This directly addresses a key goal of the 2030 Agenda which calls for taking explicit action to end extreme poverty, curb inequalities, confront discrimination and fast-track progress for the furthest behind.

UNDP's impact extends beyond Owino Market, having provided clean energy access to roughly 60,000 market vendors (70% women) through solar installations in three Ugandan markets. Additionally, UNDP champions digitalization and trade opportunities for underprivileged Ugandans. 

  • In 2020, UNDP partnered with Jumia to help over 4,000 vendors integrate their businesses into an e-commerce platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • In 2021, UNDP collaborated with Uganda Airlines to connect 40 businesswomen, including some from Owino, with business prospects in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aagreement. This initiative aims to expand women-led businesses like Endiro (coffee) and Kuunda (fintech) into the Nigerian market, creating new opportunities for thousands of Ugandan women and youth.

Dr. Dorothy Kisaka, Ms. Elsie Attafuah and Ms. Sheila Ngatia with vendors at Owino Market

UNDP Uganda

UNDP Energy Initiatives in Uganda 

Similarly, UNDP has improved energy access through the installation of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems in 31 health centers. As a result, safe delivery for about 600,000 mothers including caesarean sections is now performed at all hours, while refrigerators storing vaccines and blood are now functional at all hours, sickle cell clinics have been established, and availability of functional incubators that are run on stable energy supply will contribute to a reduced infant mortality rate.

Also, 5 biogas-to-electricity demonstration plants in 5 cities (Jinja, Kampala, Masaka, Mbale and Mbarara) were constructed to promote sustainable energy solutions. Technical assistance was provided towards having an integrated waste management approach with an aim of reducing pollution, promoting natural sources management, and accelerating access to information for sustainable solid waste polices and framework.

UNDP is also supporting solarization of 7 gazette border posts across the country, providing a reliable energy source to boost coordination, collaboration, and data collection and in turn improve border management and mitigate cross-border health risks.

Access to clean, reliable, affordable energy - Sustainable Development Goal 7 - unlocks opportunities for the world’s poorest and improves people's lives to ensure no one is left behind. It enables the achievement of many other Sustainable Development Goals, from helping to alleviate poverty by supporting businesses and supporting access to education and information, healthcare, clean water, food security to empowering women, and advancing climate action.

As part of the UN-Energy Pledge and because access to energy is a pre-condition for socio-economic development, UNDP’s 2022 - 2025 Strategic Plan has put access to energy at the heart of UNDP’s mission by pledging to mobilize partners to enable 500 million additional people to have access to sustainable, affordable, reliable energy by 2025, focusing on those who are most vulnerable. 


                                                                                                                         By Joel Akena, Communications Specialist