Challenges and way forward for using the Multi-Tier Framework for bottom-up Tracking of progress towards SDG7, a case of selected clean energy companies in Uganda
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Energy access remains a global challenge despite the interventions by national and international organizations. This challenge is more evident in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of the population lack electricity. In Uganda, the government has introduced various measures to increase access to energy, but energy poverty is still a significant challenge. Again, the binary measurement of energy access has proven insufficient to reflect Uganda's actual energy poverty level. It defines energy access based on the Population with electricity and those without electricity, leaving some crucial components of energy access such as affordability, reliability, and safety. Still, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDG-7 seeks to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. Through the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), the World Bank proposed the Multi-Tier Framework (MTF) as an ideal tool for measuring energy access. It captures the multiple aspects of energy in line with SDG7. 17 energy developing countries have been adopted as pilot case studies for this MTF which has proven quite complex for reporting\tracking energy access because of the multiple data it requires. With a mixed-method design, this research investigates the challenges of using the Multi-Tier Framework utilizing a sample of 12 solar and hydro-based energy companies and eight clean energy companies in Uganda. Results suggest that the MTF is intricate, yet, an ideal tool for tracking progress towards SDG7 because of its multi-dimensional nature spread on energy access tiers. This study also showed that MTF could be used for impact reporting by clean energy companies in Uganda because data collection is digitalized, and customers are sensitized to provide all information needed by energy companies. Further, the results show that the contribution of private energy companies to energy access upscaling was outstanding despite their huge tax obligation. The study recommends using the multi-tier framework by both government and private-owned energy companies better to measure the trends of energy access in Uganda. Better policies, programs, and projects should be designed to enhance energy access in Uganda, with the ultimate goal of achieving affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.