Pamoja is Starting Off

Welcome to the new Pamoja page.

The Pamoja team

Pamoja for Energy

Energy alone accounts for 60% of the developed countries’ civilization. Yet, this precious commodity is so scarce in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, deforestation is rolling out from the South to the North of Africa as people cut down trees in search of firewood and charcoal. Most of Africa is dotted with economic trading centers with no economic life simply because there is no energy to drive them. This keeps a large percentage of the population dull and unproductive, ever increasing the cost of living!
Against this background, three visionary young men: Peik Stenlund, Felix Ertl and William Katende, while in Sweden in the summer of 2009, shared their passion to see the change of affairs in regards to this African predicament. As they cast their sight towards this mountainous African problem, what came to their minds was whether or not they had what it takes to create the change they so much desired! Guess what? Because of the passion in each of them, they confided in each other that as individuals they would not manage, but agreed that as a team, it would be possible. Hence, the name PAMOJA. Pamoja is a Swahili word meaning “Together as One”.


Pamoja’s mission is to mobilize people “Together as One” against the effects of climate change the world over. However, its principle focus is on promoting renewable energy as a way of sustainable development.

As I write, Pamoja is a registered company in both Sweden and Uganda and has already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ugandan Government. This Memorandum of Understanding gives Pamoja an opportunity to:
1) Transfer technology from Europe to Africa by getting student engineers from European universities to do research on renewable energy from Uganda Industrial Research Institute.
Through this program, student engineers from Ugandan universities are able to compare notes with their counterparts from Europe, transferring technology.
2) Under the supervision of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Pamoja develops an energy solution to be distributed to the market after being given a go ahead from UIRI. This go ahead is given if the energy solution is not detrimental to the environment.
In view of the above, Pamoja is currently testing a biogas digestor made from polyfiber optics. It is a domestic biogas digestor designed to provide energy gas for a family of 8-9 people. Energy needs of this particular size family are cooking, lighting, and refrigeration. The testing is on how much gas does the digester that Pamoja has constructed produce to provide the above solution.
What a lovely innovation so far! So, let us march forward as Pamoja.

Through this program, student engineers from Ugandan universities are able to compare notes with their counterparts from Europe, transferring technology.

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    • David Karugireyo
    • July 28th, 2010

    Can Uganda Reap From The Use of Biogas As An Alternative Source of Energy?

    Last week, from the 19th-25th July was Energy Week 2010. The aim behind the week was to carry out an awareness campaign through the print and electronic media such that the public may step up their way of utilizing energy efficiently. Such ways of efficiency include: improving electrical wiring, good housekeeping, and improvement in maintenance practices like using energy saving lights and stoves. This year’s theme was “Energy Efficiency for Catalyzing Rural Socio-Economic Growth” so that Uganda can achieve its universal access to electricity by 2035.

    During the same week, we had an opportunity of hosting the African Union Summit that just ended yesterday. The Summit’s focus was on maternal, infant, and child health and development. I’m quite sure that our leaders could not have talked about development without mentioning its component called energy in regards to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As I read through the speech of Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General while at the African Union Summit, “I believe that the 21st century will be shaped by what happens here in Africa,” I could not help but wonder how sustainable Uganda’s development will be when the cost of energy is unaffordable to our businesses.
    The current energy consumption per capita (kgOE) is a paltry 341.6; commercial energy consumption per capita (kgOE) is 28.9; and the national electrification grid (%) is 5.

    I applaud the government’s efforts to diversify as it has geared heavy investments to renewable sources of energy like solar, thermal, and creating a very friendly environment for the private sector to indulge itself in energy generation. But, the question that still lingers is how sustainable will this energy generation be when the primary focus is on the energy whose raw materials are imported like solar. Yes, installation of solar is cheaper in the long run but very expensive to start. To a business person surviving in our fragile economy, the means of solar installation may not be immediately available.

    How sustainable will this energy generation be when the Ugandan citizenry does not enjoy a wide employment from its generation? I’d rather see government primarily promote a renewable source of energy like biogas that Ugandans are prepared to participate in its generation. Biogas, when well installed, can produce energy for lighting, cooking, and refrigeration.

    Take an example of a farmer with 10 cows in Ntungamo District. With such a number of livestock, he has a capacity of having a 12 cubic metres digester that can generate gas that cooks for at least 6 hours, lights 3 bulbs and can refrigerate 100 litres of milk daily. You can imagine how comfortable such a farmer’s life will have been made by helping him stop his milk from going bad simply because refrigeration has been incorporated into his production line. That is definitely an economic value added.

    Or take an example of a businesswoman running a restaurant in Lyantonde District who has spent over 1,000,000 shillings per month buying charcoal to cook. What if such a lady was giving a loan to construct a digester whose feedstock is organic waste? Do you know how much money would be saved, hence, increasing her quality of life? Or how much tree cutting would be stopped if she is positively denied charcoal by being given biogas? Actually, this is what is called sustainable development, a form of development where a participant has the means to save.

    A feasibility study done in 2007 by Heifer International indicates that Uganda has more than 200,000 households with potential to acquire and manage digesters for domestic use. Talking to the domestic biogas program coordinator of Heifer International, Mr. Beinampaka, “Due to the resource envelope, the Heifer International Program has earmarked 12,000 households for installation of biogas digesters in a period of 5 years Since the beginning of the year 200 digesters have been established and are functioning.”

    Two hundred thousand! You can just imagine how much these households spend on energy be it in form of firewood, charcoal, or other forms. If the government began a campaign to biogas these households, just imagine how much money may be saved. How many green jobs would be created? How many trees would stop from being cut? What economic value would be given to these households? Just imagine!

    He further said, “Under this Heifer International Program, biogas digester constructors (biogas installation companies) are encouraged to look out for customers who have a capacity to pay 70% of the costs while Heifer tops up the 30%.” When I asked him about the quotations of different sizes of digesters, he had this to say, “The 6 cubic metre digester goes for 1.5 million shillings, 9 cubic metre goes for 1.8 million shillings, and the 12 cubic metres goes fro 2 million shillings.”

    However, there are challenges farmers who want to use the digesters face. Farmers have suffered at the hands of biogas companies who fail to install effective digesters after being paid all the installation fees. Many farmers have rarely received back their money, leading to loss of interest in use of biogas. Other farmers do not have the capacity to pay a lump sum to have these digesters installed. They would rather pay monthly installments until the whole cost is cleared. Yet, that is impossible with biogas installation companies. You either have a lump sum as a prerequisite or no digester at all.

    That’s why I would think government’s participation as a champion for the cause would be the best solution. There is need for government to regulate these companies by drafting licenses and codes of conduct that will keep installers operating professionally, hence, protecting the public. Secondly, the government needs to lead the way by having a department of well trained biogas installers that can give the service to the farmers at a subsidized rate. Thirdly, let the government create a loan scheme for the farmers that cannot pay a lump sum and yet have the capacity to own a biogas plant.

    Whether or not the government believes that it must champion the cause of biogas generation, I still insist that biogas is the cheapest and yet useful source of energy in the rural towns occupied by these farmers. Promotion of the use of biogas on a bigger scale ties well with catalyzing rural socio-economic growth as part of its mandate to deliver services to the Ugandan citizenry.

    David Karugireyo
    Public Relations

    • David Karugireyo
    • July 28th, 2010

    Pamoja for Energy

    When the cost of doing business gets ever higher, you will bet the cost of living also does! And yet, one must live against all odds. This has become a phenomenal problem that faces sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries where the lack of basic development requirements (transport, communnication and energy infrastructure) are steadily suffocating the continent!

    Energy alone accounts for 60% of the developed countries’ civilization. Yet, this precious commodity is so scarce in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, deforestation is rolling out from the South to the North of Africa as people cut down trees in search of firewood and charcoal. Most of Africa is dotted with economic trading centres with no economic life simply because there is no energy to drive them. This keeps a large percentage of the population dull and unproductive, ever increasing the cost of living!

    Against this background, three visionary young men: Peik Stenlund, Felix Ertl and William Katende, while in Sweden in the summer of 2009, shared their passion to see the change of affairs in regards to this African predicament. As they cast their sight towards this mountainous African problem, what came to their minds was whether or not they had what it takes to create the change they so much desired! Guess what? Because of the passion in each of them, they confided in each other that as individuals they would not manage, but agreed that as a team, it would be possible. Hence, the name PAMOJA. Pamoja is a Swahili word meaning “Together as One.”
    Pamoja’s mission is to mobilize people “Together as One” agaist the effects of climate change the world over. However, its principle focus is on promoting renewable energy as a way of sustainble development.

    As I write, Pamoja is a registered company in both Sweden and Uganda and has already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ugandan Govornment. This Memorandum of Understanding gives Pamoja an opportunity to:

    1) Transfer technology from Europe to Africa by getting student engineers from European universities to do research on renewable energy from Uganda Industrial Research Institute.
    Through this program, student engineers from Ugandan universities are able to compare notes with their counterparts from Europe, transferring technology.

    2) Under the supervision of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Pamoja develops an energy solution to be distributed to the market after being given a go ahead from UIRI. This go ahead is given if the energy solution is not detrimental to the environment.

    In view of the above, Pamoja is currently testing a biogas digester made from polyfiber optics. It is a domestic biogas digester designed to provide energy gas for a family of 8-9 people. Energy needs of this particular size family are cooking, lighting, and refrigeration. The testing is on how much gas does the digester that Pamoja has constructed produce to provide the above solution.

    What a lovely innovation so far! So, let us march forward as Pamoja.

    David Karugireyo
    Public Relations

  1. Yeah I know what your talking about, life these days is all together then it was back in the old days . I am sure that our grand parents never really thought about this , technology as we know it from many angles makes a lot of things possible . Reckon I might be old fashioned , but I recall when times were different . People were honest , you could trust if your kids were outside by themselves they were safe , and things just weren’t as expensive either . I suppose costs are always going to go up , but you know I don’t know why why we can’t go back to the days when neighbors really cared about each other and actually knew each others names. I suppose that is in the past , but you know today is another day, so I suppose I otta just keep moving forward.

  2. Good info

    • Tini
    • September 15th, 2010

    Hej guys!

    I have much respect for young people who takes the environment seriously. I am beginning to be more aware of such importance. As someone who is always fascinated by nature and how she works, i have plenty more to learn.

    Coming from a developed country wtih no natural resources, energy is often taken for granted and we only have that much knowledge that is relevant to our lifestyle in the tiny big city. Having to come here (at Videbacken) and with the casual conversations and obtaining brief knowledge about your works, i sincerely salut you guys! Very noble, indeed. BRAVO!

    I hope to create an awareness as well as to educate the children of Singapore about sustainable energy. THAT would be something fun to teach and learn together! :)

    Tini

  3. good share of your post…kepp it coming

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