Publication

Digital Finance for Energy Access in Uganda

Summary

Access to clean energy is a basic need that directly supports people’s livelihood. Yet more than 30 million Ugandans live without electricity. In the last decade, Uganda has experienced a phenomenal change in the adoption of digital finance and energy technologies. This opens up new frontiers for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly on accessing clean and affordable energy, promoting inclusive economic growth, and improving health and well-being.

With more than 73 percent mobile phone and 59 percent mobile money penetration, Pay-as-you-go (PayGo) solar offers a promising digital solution to provide clean and affordable energy for low-income and rural households in Uganda. However, there remain significant information gaps hindering the growth of the digital energy market in Uganda.

Partners:

To address these market information gaps, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) energy program, in partnership with the Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA), the Dalberg Data Insights (DDI), and the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), conducted a Big Data action research in Uganda.

Data and Method:

This working paper leverages anonymized mobile money transaction data for two years (Oct 2016-Dec 2018) to gain customer and market-level insights on digital energy financing in Uganda.

The study explores the relationship between digital energy finance and wider financial inclusion, as well as the impact of mobile money taxation on PayGo solar activation. It also draws from a phone survey conducted on 424 solar customers to understand solar product adoption patterns and quality of life improvements.

Additional Resources:

Infographic overview of key findings

Blog: An overview of the Uganda Digital Energy Finance Dashboard

Blog: How did a mobile money tax affect energy access?