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Warwick engineering students help provide renewable energy in Uganda

Warwick students help to cast a floor slab for the new powerhouse in Bihondo, UgandaUniversity of Warwick engineering students and staff are putting their renewables expertise to practical use to bring hydroelectric power to rural communities in Uganda.

Up to 2,000 people have benefitted from small-scale hydroelectric power plants in three Ugandan villages installed by Warwick students. The plants supply power to three trading centres and two schools and this will be increased to four schools and an orphanage shortly.

The project, which has been running for five years, has made it possible to install lighting in homes, shops and schools as well as increase the use computers and mobile phones, stimulating the local economy and increasing participation in education.

Six undergraduates, all from the School of Engineering at Warwick, are spending the summer working on the three small scale hydroelectric power plants in the villages of Bihondo, Mt Gessi and Mabwe.

The students are Hannah Rowland, 22, from Buckingham, Alex Bending, 21, from King Lynn, Daisy O’Dell, 21, from Rickmansworth, Luke Thornton, 19, from Chester, Tom Needham, 19, from Norwich and Graham Jermy, 22, from Norwich.

They will be in Uganda until the middle of September.

The project is receiving funding from the University of Warwick as well as renewables firm Navitron and IBM.

Dr Colin Oram, Principal Teaching Fellow in the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick, has also funded the projects from his own pocket.

He said: “Less than 5 per cent of rural Uganda is supplied with grid electricity. Since 2009, students and staff from the University of Warwick have been working with rural communities in the Rwenzori mountains to supply electricity.

“This scheme is of great value to the local communities, helping to support rural businesses and also encouraging local children to stay in school.

“Access to power means children can study for longer using electric lighting, as well as use computers, the internet and satellite TV for learning.

“It is a great experience for our undergraduate students as well.

“Living and working every day in these communities has been the experience of a life-time for them.

“Moreover there is an unparalleled leap in technical knowledge, confidence and perspective which is of great help when they enter the workplace after their studies end.”


Please contact University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02475 575910 or a dot blackaby at warwick dot ac dot uk

Please contact University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02475 575910 or a dot blackaby at warwick dot ac dot uk