The Chinese solar power company Shenzhen Topway Solar Co Ltd is planning to invest $500 000 in a solar unit assembly plant in Uganda. The ten year old company currently supplies solar products to 15 African countries.

The investment will be made by a local subsidiary, Simtopway Solar (U) Ltd formed in conjunction with local partner Patrick Idro. The company mainly serves the domestic market among rural populations where access to the electricity supply is extremely limited.

The company believes that assembling units in Uganda can bring prices down by 40-50 per cent. A domestic lighting system with two lamps and a radio currently costs 300 000-400 000 Ugandan shillings.

By putting systems together locally, the company hopes to be able to supply a wider range of solar units to meet differing needs. It hopes to be able to bring the costs of units within the range of the poorer as well as the middle-class customers.