Uganda Posts

Let’s inspire and educate with GoSol!

Posted Thursday 25 November 2021 by Hanna Williams.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” GoSol’s mission is to influence and inspire minds, young and old, to comprehend the potential of using free solar thermal energy. Using purely the Lytefire technology instead of relying on charcoal and firewood which releases C02 emissions into the atmosphere. Our vision is to help local communities by creating ‘solarpreneurs’ (entrepreneurs that use Lytefire solar technology), jobs and businesses and to contribute their impact in the fight against poverty in a third world country, rising up against climate change.

The beginning of our next project starts here in Uganda, a country of breathtaking landscapes and bountiful, native wildlife. It is a place with ‘pinch yourself’ moments all around you and surreal views. Unfortunately due to the contributing factors of climate change such as deforestation, rapid population growth and non-sustainable agricultural expansion there is now the potential threat of the ongoing pipeline construction happening in Uganda through to Tanzania.
The expected pipeline route will begin from Hoimia, near lake Albert extending through to the port of Tanga, Tanzania. The pipeline will reach 1,443km in total running through Uganda at 296km, then 1,147km in Tanzania.

The controversial pipeline “is likely to lead to significant disturbance"

The impact of this crude oil pipeline will have a devastating shock to the people, the biodiversity and endangered wildlife, causing irreversible damage.
A WWF Uganda report in 2017 warned that the controversial pipeline “is likely to lead to significant disturbance, fragmentation and increased poaching within important biodiversity and natural habitats”. Not to mention the impact of the total carbon emissions that will be released as a result of the consumption of oil.

The pipeline will run its route through Murchison Falls National Park, Bugoma Forest (home to around 600 endangered chimpanzees) and Biharamulo game reserve. There has been a significant decline of biodiversity already within these areas due to clearing of trees, commercial poaching and oil drilling. Even in my lifetime I have witnessed the extinction of the bongo, giant eland, black rhino, white rhino and the oryx and declining populations of buffalos, elephants, hippopotamuses and lions in some National Parks. Knowing my future children and further generations in years to come will never be able to catch a glimpse of these incredible animals in their natural habitat due to our actions creates so much despair in my heart.

If such a disaster happened here so many lives would be at risk, more poverty and deteriorating jobs

The pipeline will also be constructed alongside Lake Victoria’s basin, as one of the world’s largest tropical fishing destinations this will negatively impact the locals especially the 200,000 employees that rely on this as their main source of income. When travelling I visited the outskirts of Lake Victoria and I observed so many locals depending solely on the Lake to bring back food for their families. If such a disaster happened here so many lives would be at risk, more poverty and deteriorating jobs.
According to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery “A leak could have catastrophic effects on local water resources, the environment and the communities living in the basin.” Lake Victoria supports the livelihoods of 4 million people, if such an event did occur can you even begin to imagine how local families would suffer terribly?

With the knowledge of these environmental issues in Uganda, I began my journey in Lake Mburo, within a safari camp surrounded by zebras, warthogs and many other incredible species! From there, I then travelled to Lake Bunyonyi, quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The serene stillness of the lake, the 6am wake up call of the birds just before the sun rises each morning and not forgetting the views of the mini islands and abundantly rich terraced farmland. This truly is a paradise on Earth! It is heartbreaking to learn that where I am right now in East Africa, may look and be a completely different environment in less than a decade.

90% of Uganda’s total energy requirements are supplied by biomass

Uganda is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in Africa and I am learning about how they are facing many economic challenges such as reduction in forest cover from 24% of total land area (1990) to 9.5% (2017). Over reliance on firewood and charcoal as a primary energy source - 90% of Uganda’s total energy requirements are supplied by biomass. This is having a devastating impact on Uganda’s forests, contributing to 60% of forest loss annually.

If we shift our perspective and educate then maybe we can transform the future for younger generations to come

This is where the role of GoSol comes into effect. If we can change and direct the energy in a positive and empowering way, we can gradually change societies perspectives by living in balance and harmony with the environment around us. As a trainer my aim is to educate students on the benefits of using solar energy instead of using charcoal and firewood. Informing students on the overall accelerating rate of climate change and how we can prevent such disastrous events. If we can change the minds of people who have access to incredible solar thermal power then surely we can develop safer practices to ensure the resurrection of planet earth? If we shift our perspective and educate then maybe we can transform the future for younger generations to come.

(Montessori school, Tanzania, 2021)

We begin our training here in Uganda, Kamuli with Plan International’s SmartUp factory which supports over 3,500 young individuals learning new skills which give them the opportunities to find employment or create their own businesses. The unemployment rate here in Uganda is 80% for youths so it is an incredible project to be part of, training 15 students how to bake with solar energy with Lytefire technology!
Working in synergy with Plan International, the GoSol team is providing profound knowledge of how to start and run your very own solar bakery business.
Our team for this project includes Lorin, Judith, Jared, Callum, Augustine, Nigel and myself and what an extraordinary team they are to complete such a rewarding training programme for these young adults to benefit from!

Follow our training adventures on social media for the entire project until spring 2022!
Instagram: @Lytefire_solar

Announcing new Partnership with Plan International to Empower Entrepreneurs in Uganda

Posted Monday 1 November 2021 by Urs Riggenbach.

We are excited to announce this new partnership to empower entrepreneurs to run solar bakeries and food businesses across 11 locations in Uganda. The project will allow existing bakery cooperatives to transition from daily charcoal burning to using our powerful Lytefire 5 solar concentrator. In addition, we deepen our cooperation with Plan International’s SmartUp Hubs that started back in 2018: There we will equip the SmartUp Hubs with more Lytefires and train unemployed youths to become solar bakers.

It is a great opportunity to spread our entrepreneurial spirit to help boost incomes, grow local sustainable businesses, and at the same time reduce people’s exposure to toxic smoke from charcoal and other polluting fuels. Not to mention the carbon emissions this will reduce at the same time.

The cooperation is a collaboration between Plan International Finland as project initiator, Plan International Uganda as local implementation partner and Solar Fire, the creators of the Lytefire technology and the GoSol educational trainings to create solar entrepreneurs.

"You have the energy right over your head, so you have to utilize it"

Posted Friday 5 April 2019 by Lorin Symington.

This is an interview with Derrick, one of the youth mentors at the Gulu SmartUp Factory, Uganda. In the video, he discusses why entrepreneurs need to be dynamic, the health and economics of polluting heat sources like charcoal or wood and some hopes for the future.

The students here in Gulu have little real world experience running a business and it is exciting to see how they are approaching the business that resulted from our solar entrepreneurship education package.

(Sorry, this time the sound quality is not so good)

"I want to be one of the youths who are job creators"

Posted Thursday 21 March 2019 by Lorin Symington.

Meet Angella, one of the young women at SmartUp Factory Tororo who participated in our solar entrepreneurship education training. Angella was one of the most enthusiastic bakers in the group, always with a big smile on her face.

She participated regularly in the roundtable discussions about how to organize the solar baking business that would emerge as a result of this training. Youth unemployment in Uganda is around 80% and Angella and the others are keen to earn an income.

Introducing Angella:

"I’m enjoying being in business and I believe I’ll prosper"

Posted Monday 4 March 2019 by Lorin Symington.

Meet Janet from SmartUp Factory Gulu Hub in Uganda. Janet was one of the most energetic participants of our solar entrepreneurship education package, always asking questions and clarifying, volunteering and speaking up.

She took special interest in book keeping and went on to become the groups accountant because before the 2 week training was over, they were already selling goods, buying ingredients and handling money.

GoSol Solar Training Highlights

Posted Tuesday 12 February 2019 by Lorin Symington.

We’re happy to share with you this video which shows some great moments from the Solar Entrepreneurship Training we conducted in Uganda with Plan International (Uganda) and SmartUp Factory Uganda.

During this course we taught these young Ugandans about solar science, baking, design thinking, entrepreneurship skills and how to install and maintain the SOL5 solar concentrator.

This program is particularly powerful because it comes with everything needed for the participants to learn new skills and have a green job at the end of it. Most of the participants have never run a business before, and now they are gaining real world experience as well as real income.

Our new solar entrepreneurs are battling climate change as well as providing an income for themselves while minimizing the environmental impact of doing business. In many African nations, charcoal and firewood are the primary source of thermal energy for small businesses, and our solution allows micro and small businesses to save money while allowing the forests to grow in peace.

We ran two groups of twelve students through the training program; 12 students in Tororo and 12 students in Gulu are now able to build their entrepreneurship skills and increase awareness of sustainable energy.

7 Sustainable Development Goals made real for Eva Nangira, a young solar entrepreneur in Uganda

Posted Thursday 20 December 2018 by Lorin Symington.

We’d like to introduce you to Eva Nangira, one of the youth mentors at the SmartUp Factory Tororo Hub. Eva is a very attentive student and really grasps the significance of our SOL5 oven. In this short video, she describes the impact that the SOL5 oven is having on her life.

Eva focuses on the impact that this business will have on her and the other young women being trained. Women in Uganda face serious challenges when they enter the workforce and it is our hope that along with SmartUp Factory and Plan International, we can empower many more women to become sustainable self employed.

It’s very clear that when you want to do things, you have positivity and an entrepreneurial mindset, the access to energy, to a clean and powerful energy source, is really key. We are so grateful because thanks to entrepreneurs like Eva and all the groups from Kenya and Tanzania, we are proving that there is an appropriate clean energy solution for all these people that are not in developed economies. It is more or less expected that developing countries will develop and grow like Western countries have, but here at we believe that solutions must be adapted to their reality, and their reality is: tons of sun that they can harvest to be free from fossil fuels and reduce deforestation.

SOL5 replaces fire wood, charcoal, LPG and poor electric grids to power activities during all the sunny season. During the rainy season, the entrepreneurs have to use a mix which is fine because they made savings the rest of the year and they can afford it.


The Sustainable Development Goals

Solar thermal energy is accessible for all and once widely implemented, will have dramatic and far reaching effects on our world. The Sustainable Development Goals have been established by the UN for the 2030 Agenda. The 17 SDG’s are the pillars of a new society, based on sustainable development for all.

Our Concentrated Solar Power solution is directly impacting 7 of these goals and affects some others.

Goal 1 End Poverty ​Universal access to solar thermal energy will create new economic opportunities for millions of people in food processing. Energy plays a key role in breaking the poverty trap; when people use clean solar energy that is locally built they can process food and create products with added value.

Goal 5 ​Gender Equality ​By empowering women and girls with access to free, clean solar energy, they have more time to go to school and engage in meaningful income generating activities instead of chopping wood. They’ll also benefit from better health due to reduced exposure to toxic smoke.

Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy ​Solar energy is one of the cleanest and most cost effective sources of energy. GoSol solar thermal technology has a return on investment of 18 months.

Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth ​GoSol technology promotes decent work conditions due to the elimination of harmful pollution from burning biomass and enhances economic growth by balancing fossil fuel driven trade deficits while reducing the wasted labour represented by biomass collection and burning.

Goal 10 Reduce Inequalities ​Sunshine is distributed more equally than many other sources of energy. By enhancing distributed access to clean, free solar energy at all levels of society from smallholder farmers to industry, GoSol technology is reducing the inequalities inherent in centralized energy systems.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities ​Cities and communities are only as sustainable as the energy upon which they are based. By enhancing access to renewable and clean solar thermal energy, GoSol technology is ensuring communities can thrive long term.

Goal 13 Climate Action ​Solar thermal technology reduces deforestation, particulate pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. GoSol’s solar thermal technology can be implemented globally to make an impact within the 12 years limit set by the most recent IPCC report.

Recently the International Panel on Climate Change has called for sweeping changes to society in order to minimize the damage of climate change and GoSol technology can play a big role in that.

Our budding entrepreneurs in Uganda have a lot to say and we’ll be sharing more of their stories and perspectives in the coming weeks, stay tuned.

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