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Social Economic Eco-System (SEES) for the Economic and Human Development of post-conflict areas of northern Uganda.

Solar microgrids in rural Uganda for energy and connectivity, with skills development in e-learning, service delivery and entrepreneurship

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

This project offers a mix of energy, connectivity and education to support entrepreneurship and basic service delivery in Uganda. This ecosystem in turn stimulates economic growth with communities.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

BOSCO empowers post-conflict communities by fostering energy, education and economic development.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

No. BOSCO had established five microgrid sites so far, creating jobs and new businesses for 1,212 people and light for over 1,500 students. This project extends BOSCO’s commendable work in northern Uganda with an additional component around improved access to energy for health centers and homes.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

The problem is that areas of northern Uganda struggle with poor basic services after decades of population displacement and inconsistent access to energy that impede the economics for rural households. This is a high priority for communities, such that they have saved for two years to contribute.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Awareness raising, device installation and community skills strengthening in utility management will be performed in the first year for two target communities in northern Uganda - Paimol and Coo-Pe This will be followed by establishing a strong utility management system over Years 1 and 2 to sustain the project in future years. Support monitoring will be carried out in Year 2 with BOSCO accompanying communities. Year 3 will focus on documentation and exiting.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

BOSCO will manage the project and lead implementation in Uganda. BMM will design and install the microgrid and support training on system maintenance. Sirona Care will provide 100 batteries and charging stations for household operations and training. NDIGD will offer technical support in education.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Financial Business Model

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Better understand my user or community

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

The project will look at community and household level indicators to assess who 1) has access to energy and 2) has started or expanded business. Additionally, SEES will more intentionally look at 3) the number of households with access to improved health care, 4) those making payments towards operational and capital expenses over the project period 5) improvement in academic performance of school children, and 6) those reporting improvement in income due to use of energy at home.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

Our user research identified greater need for the project than expected. Target communities will not receive grid electricity within the next 10 years. Community leaders are so eager to proceed that they have saved funds for two years to contribute to solar capital costs (planet). The community will also diversify its income source by uniting to do collective agriculture (peace and prosperity).

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

We need to continue working with the two target communities to determine the final size of the solar systems. This will involve additional weeks of carrying out surveys to estimate household energy needs as well as those of the health care center, school and local businesses. Another factor to consider includes how much participants will be able to afford each month for operation and maintenance and capital reimbursement, which will vary depending on the size.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

BOSCO'S LEGACY From its inception, BOSCO has realized that seeking to empower local leaders with energy, education and ICT opens the door to global partnerships around a dignified response to meeting interrelated local needs. A central challenge in Northern Uganda, magnified by recent decades of conflict, is its isolation and even exclusion from many channels of prosperity: economic, educational, environmental, relational. BOSCO responds to that challenge by connecting people in ways that preserve what is most valued by the local population (captured in the phrase “preserving culture”), supporting participatory impact of everyone concerned, both locally and (supported by ICT) internationally and doing so in a sustainable way. In this OpenIDEO proposal in particular, the Paimol business community is the primary community contact and owner; BOSCO-Uganda (itself a civil society organization rooted in Northern Uganda) provides partnership coordination and technical support. A picture of the Paimol Business Community, and a hand-drawn map by the community of their primary location (drawn specifically as part of their ongoing request for CE3 electrification) are provided as attachments. SUSTAINABILITY AND SCALE UP In order to sustain and scale up the sites, BOSCO designs a payback schedule with each community based on their willingness and ability to pay. This in turn partially informs the size of the system, allowing for potential expansion of the business community once electricity is introduced. A portion of these payments are channeled into a Sustainability Fund co-managed by BOSCO and the community that covers costs associated with supporting the Utility Manager and replacement parts. The objective of this Sustainability Fund is to ensure that the system continues functioning for many years, addressing a key problem witnessed in many water or energy infrastructure projects around the world. Another portion of the payment will go towards paying back the capital costs required to procure and install the system. Payback periods may range from 7-15 years but over time will allow additional resources to scale up these systems as the energy demand grows or to construct new sites in areas of need. Similarly, BOSCO will work with communities to develop sustainability plans for the ICT Centers, financed through income generating activities such as hostels, cafes, print requests, or other activities generated by the community. This will enable GHR's resources to expand their impact exponentially. POLICY IMPLICATIONS BOSCO cooperates with the local Government before inserting new solar installations in a location. Because of the monopoly the government commands around the public utility, energy rates are high for households and institutions. At the same time, the grid currently does not have capacity to supply energy to areas that are connected to the grid, much less outlying areas that would require heavy investment to connect. This project favors the policy environment by demonstrating the benefit of providing affordable, renewable energy to rural areas and its impact on the country's economy. This has the potential of encouraging greater investment by the government into decentralized, rural electrification schemes or at least enhancing the operating environment for those organizations working in this area through possible subsidies.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

PARTNERSHIP One of the areas that has been streamlined further from the original proposal is the partnership structure. BOSCO has considerable experience with bringing a mix of partners together to implement this type of project. The local community and BOSCO are the primary implementing partners. BOSCO has 10 years experience supporting local communities in precisely this off-grid electrification, communication, and business development enterprise, although the model has developed substantially over that time and the list of strategic and capitalization partners has grown. BOSCO has more than five years experience with very regular Skype calls between community leaders, BOSCO staff, and international partners. They have experimented with and identified best current solutions for these interactions, and they continue to identify and implement new useful tools as they become available for collaboration among partners. A more comprehensive articulation of the new roles of each partner is below: 1) BOSCO Uganda coordinates the partners, guarantees direct Internet connection through its own Point to Point (PTP) connection, has over 10 years of experience providing ICT Leadership and Management, Human Rights and Good Governance training as well as trainings for community members to become a Trainer of Trainers in order to create a multiplier effect within the community. 2) Sirona Cares provides household scale interventions through the supply of special batteries and chargers that can run small household appliances and lights. They will also provide trainings for utility maintenance staff to troubleshoot problems when they arise. 3) BBM designs and implements comprehensive microgrid systems, inclusive of battery backup systems and backup generators. They also offer trainings for utility managers for each site. 4) Notre Dame enjoys strong proficiency in improving upon education resources and will continue to refine BOSCO's entrepreneurship and computer-literacy trainings. It has been a long-standing partner of BOSCO's over the past five years. This new structure better leverages BOSCO's strengths around project and fund management while allowing more dollars to support beneficiary engagement.

Northern Uganda models many of the human and economic development challenges that face much of sub-Saharan Africa today. The core problem is that post-war areas such as the Acholi sub region in Northern Uganda continue to struggle with poor basic service infrastructure following decades of population displacement, coupled with inconsistent and unreliable grid access to sustainable sources of energy that together impede the economics for many rural households.   

From 1996 to 2006, Northern Uganda was entrenched in a brutal war between civilian communities and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The violence erupting from this conflict left over two million displaced from their homes and tens of thousands of people killed. Now in a phase of rehabilitation, Northern Uganda grapples with building back a dignified basic services infrastructure around schools and clinics that can meet the needs of its burgeoning population, all the more stressed now by refugee movement from neighboring South Sudan.  

At the heart of the infrastructure issues, entire communities often go without reliable and affordable access to electricity, which could otherwise assist social services to function properly and support economic development. About 15% of the Ugandan population currently has access to electricity http://www.ivl.se/download/18.4b1c947d15125e72dda353e/1452527987219/C144.pdf In the best case scenario, this number is expected to surge to 25.5 percent by 2022 according to the current strategic plan, leaving at least 74.5 percent of the country (about 29 million people) without access to grid electricity by 2022. The energy poverty in Uganda is a function of the high cost for utility providers to expand the grid to rural areas without sufficient returns, the subsequent high cost of energy for consumers, and unreliable services for those who are connected to the national electricity grid. 

Disconnected communities experience substantially larger levels of unemployment in a region that already faces one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, at 62 percent https://www.aku.edu/eai/Documents/the-uganda-youth-survey-report-august-2016.pdfOverall. Rural micro-enterprises are hindered by dark periods when electricity is not available, coupled with often inefficient strategies to track costs or attract more customers. Also, while aware of the role that information plays as a transformative tool to communities throughout the world, in Uganda the percentage of Internet users is as low as 19.2 percent compared to the world average of 44 percent http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2. This is due largely to low literacy level in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), the high cost of ICT devices, and low connectivity rates in rural areas. 

In response to these issues, the Social Economic Ecosystem Project (SEES) will establish a robust community-driven energy/connectivity/capacity strengthening ecosystem to address the challenge of electrification and entrepreneurship in support of the human and economic development of post-conflict Northern Uganda. This model demonstrates how provision of a consistent and reliable renewable energy source can in turn facilitate basic service delivery and job creation in rural post-conflict communities. 

The CE3 intervention, on which this proposal is based, follows this pattern. The fundamental observed need and opportunity: business opportunities grew up around off-grid ICT installations, leveraging the small amount of surplus clean energy powering the ICT in these sites. CE3 seeks to magnify the elements of this self-assembling response to the opportunities which ICT makes possible. The community demand for energy is met by providing capitalization for community ownership of the means of energy production at affordable rates. Business development, necessary to develop the economically productive responses to available energy needed for sustainability and expansion of energy production, is encouraged through formation of infrastructure of local community support for business, including basic training in a common language of business development (Entrepreneurial Essentials training). ICT is leveraged to open channels to best practices and partnership support for energy production, business cultivation, as well as technical and economic training. This is the CE3 ecosystem, a community-owned but globally-supported response to a locally perceived need. BOSCO continues to function as a connecting partner in this effort, providing scaffolding for essential practices (such as savings accounts for energy system sustainability jointly managed by local communities and regional maintenance support and training of local utility managers.) 

Recent participatory assessments with two communities in Gulu (Paimol and Coo-Pe) revealed electricity needs for rural health centers, schools and business activities. Electricity supply will power an ICT&D (Information, Communication, Technology and Development) Center, one local health facility, one primary school, the business community and provide individual solutions to 200 people for light and charging stations through household-level batteries provided by Sirona Care Solutions. This will leverage BOSCO-Uganda’s already strong knowledge and skills in provision of Energy solutions, Intranet and Internet through its ICT & D, and training in business through an Entrepreneurship Essentials course already-tested in partnership with the Accenture Development Partners Foundation. In total the project will reach over 2,900 direct beneficiaries across all its interventions and 23,000 indirect beneficiaries. At least 407 unique individuals will witness the impact of the full ecosystem as they access services from more than one of the areas supported through the energy or connectivity component of this project. 

The SEES framework (see attached), reflects a minimum of four components to the program. These components (i.e. ICT & D Center, health center, schools, solar charging stations, and the business community) will be supplied with solar energy through the solar microgrid station afforded through this project. The community management committee in Paimol has already established a prepaid system to finance the sustainability of the project, and has been contributing to it for the past three years. They also have a community collective for energy investments which will supplement shortfalls should they arise. Accompanying a successful implementation over two years and rise in the energy needs, the sustainability fund will help support additional scale up at each site.

Active community participation from the needs assessment to implementation and monitoring will be integrated throughout to ensure both ownership by the communities and increased sustainability of the proposed interventions. The various components will be answerable to a central energy utility management committee chosen by the community. 

BOSCO Uganda

Sirona

BBM

Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development

Explain your idea

The needs of our community partners call for an ecosystems approach that requires sustained coordination due to its complexity. The program revolves around the provision of clean, renewable energy through the use of solar micro grid stations. SEES provides for several components, but the backbone of the program is the energy provision and capacity building for entrepreneurship. The community will have firsthand management of the solar grid with technical support from BOSCO ensuring sustainability and ownership. The following components are strongly foreseen to serve as a catalyst for socio-economic development in the target area: 1. Two Micro Grid Stations with capacity 10 and 20 KwH based on final community assessed needs and the potential for expansion of the business communities. 2. Solar Energy provided to the following components of the project with reliable solar energy: ICT & D Centers (2), Health Center (1), Primary School (1), Business Community (2), and Sirona Care Battery System for a 100 portable batteries (2) . 3. Skills development program through the Entrepreneurship Essentials (EE) Training Program and access to start-up capital through existing savings and lending groups to further stimulate economic development. The project will also link budding entrepreneurs to local mentors for additional support and coaching. 4. ICT&D Center Management Community (9 to 12 community members) trained by BOSCO-Uganda to provide ICT-Literacy courses, Entrepreneurship Essentials (EE) Training and access to Internet for services such school research and entrepreneurship networking. Printing and photocopying services will also be provided to the community through these centers. 5. Two Sirona Care stations with a 100-battery system per station to supply 200 households across the two communities with affordable solar lights and charging stations for household use. This will reduce risks associated with use of lamps and offer the chance to set up small charging stations as small business opportunities. 6. BOSCO-Uganda, through its partnership with BBM, will train two utility managers who will be charged with monitoring the micro grid stations and the functionality of their supply to the different institutions. Moreover, they will be skilled to make small level repairs at the micro grid station and the locations of supply.

Who Benefits?

Nearly 3,000 Children, Youth and Adults in Paimol and Coo-Pe will benefit directly from this project. Additionally, over 23,000 individuals will benefit indirectly through the improved delivery of health and education services and businesses in the area. This includes those receiving vaccines that can be consistently refrigerated at a much lower cost and students who can now study in the evenings which is not possible at present. At least 400 individuals will benefit from multiple interventions.

How is your idea unique?

The SEES project combines several important components that go beyond the important function of facilitating solar electricity to rural Uganda. Firstly, SEES recognizes the critical role that electricity provides towards human development, particularly in delivering basic services. Secondly, the project reinforces the link between electricity and entrepreneurship by coupling it to ICT access and entrepreneurship trainings and local mentorship. Payments made towards the provision of reliable energy will go in part to afford operational costs related to ongoing maintenance, while another portion of the payments will be retained as capital for scaling up, with BOSCO providing technical guidance. The community can then improve on the energy size as needed or replicate similar systems in nearby trading centers, thus extending the impact of the GHR grant over time. It is this comprehensive approach to that lends itself to greater sustainability and scalability which makes us unique.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

BOSCO-Uganda is a non-profit organization which promotes education and computer literacy through a network of 27 computer centers in remote locations across northern Uganda. Its mission is to empower communities in post-conflict Uganda through dialogue, education and economic development to recover from decades of conflict and displacement. BOSCO is heavily engaged in meeting Uganda’s growing energy needs, and through its CE3 (Connectivity, Electricity and Education for Entrepreneurship) program it provides significant on-the-ground experience with over 10 years of implementing ICT&D Centers. It is this experience that has culminated into the presented SEES model. BOSCO would implement the SEES program in Uganda, but it has 501(c)(3) status in the US where it is overseen by a US Board of Directors. Additional information can be found at www.boscouganda.com. Other partners to be involved with this project are as follows: 1. Sirona Care – To provide 100 batteries and charging stations for household operations alongside training of technical staff on maintenance aspects (to be confirmed). http://www.sironacares.org/ 2. BBM – A German organization operating in Gulu, Uganda in the area of energy supply systems. http://bbm.miva.at/en/ 3. Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) - One of America’s leading undergraduate teaching institutions, Notre Dame has been at the forefront in research and scholarship. NDIGD combines the existing world-class teaching and research faculty of the University with a dedicated staff of experienced international development professionals, administrators, and researchers. NDIGD will support BOSCO in evolving its educational components to better meet the needs of these specific target communities. www.ndigd.nd.edu.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
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Attachments (2)

Uganda Bridge Builder Summary Budget_June 16.pdf

Summary budget outlining major cost categories

User Map Activity.docx

Sketch of user experience and how they interact with each specific aspect of the project

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