IELTS Reading 2

1. a. Read the title and subheading of the text opposite. Without reading the rest of the text, answer the following questions.

1 What general problem is the text about?

2 Where does the problem exist?

3 What could be a possible solution?

4 What is one drawback to this solution?

b. Now read the first and last paragraphs of the text to check your answers

2. In one type of sentence completion task, you have to complete sentences using words from a box.

a Look through the sentence beginnings 1-6 below. Some key words have been underlined. The same words are in the text. Look for these words to help you locate the paragraphs which contain the information you need.


Charlotte Denny in Kampala

Cheap solar panels could be the answer to Uganda’s power shortage, but they are proving to be a hard sell

A Uganda may be one of the world’s poorest countries, but it has been blessed with a climate that is almost perfect. With sunshine going spare, one Ugandan electrician believes he has the solution to the country’s power shortage — low-tech solar panels that can run anything from a radio to a mobile phone.

B The electrician, Fred Kajubi, belongs to an organisation known as the Uganda Change Agents Association, which helps local people learn skills that can make a difference to their lives and their communities. Members of the organisation, who are known as Change Agents, run credit unions, set up self-help groups in villages, become active in local politics and, in Mr Kajubi’s case, promote the use of solar power. He has set up his own small company, Sunshine Solutions, which offers customers a solar panel to meet their every need.

C The materials for the solar panels come from a company in Britain called BioDesign, set up five years ago by a retired inventor, Graham Knight. After seeing a TV programme on the invention of a radio powered by clockwork, Mr Knight decided that in some parts of the world, solar power would be a more effective energy resource for radios and similar everyday equipment. He set up a firm to make the components for low-cost solar panels for use in Africa and South America. These are sent out in kit form, together with instructions on how to assemble them. Graham Knight’s panels, which use amorphous silicon, are ten times cheaper than the crystalline silicon panels more commonly used for large-scale solar power production. Sunshine Solutions can therefore sell solar panels that are much less expensive than the ones available in the shops.

D Only a small minority of Ugandans currently have access to mains electricity, which leaves most families reliant on batteries to power their radios and on kerosene lamps to light their houses. But for just 15,000 shillings (S8.50). the same price as two months’ supply of batteries. one of the solar panels sold by Sunshine Solutions can run a radio for several years. In spite of this, it’s proving a struggle for the company to persuade people to invest in their solar panels. Although the solar panels work out cheaper than batteries in the long term, the initial cost is more than many people can afford.

E Uganda plans to bring power to poor villages over the next five years, with the building of a big dam on the Nile. But even if these ambitious plans for the rural electrification succeed, there will still be sections of the population that cannot afford to hook up to the national grid. The experience of the last couple of decades in developing countries is that ambitious schemes are not effective in getting power to the poorest people,’ says Andrew Simms. an expert from the New Economics Foundation in London. ‘Small-scale enterprises have a better track record at getting energy to the people who need it.’ Better still, solar and other renewable energy sources allow countries to avoid the effects of pollution caused by heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Mr Simms says.

G But even cheap technology is hard to sell in a country where half the population lives below the poverty line and there are few effective marketing and distribution Mr Simms believes that the only solution to spreading solar energy more widely is government subsidies, because the initial costs of the solar power panels are beyond most household budgets.

H In the meantime, Mr Kajubi is pinning his hopes on the spread of micro-credit schemes that will loan money to families to help them raise the cash for his products. His company has yet to make a profit, although he says are picking up. He is planning another trip into the countryside to demonstrate his solar panels as well as a new solar cooker. Asked if he ever gets downhearted, he points to the motto on his workshop wall: Never give up, it says.

3.  This task involves matching two sets of information. One set will be names of people or things from the text. The second set will be statements, opinions, theories, etc. The order of the numbered items ( 1, 2, 3, etc.) will not be the same as in the text.

a Look through the text quickly. In which paragraphs will you find information about the people A—D in the box below?

b Now complete the task below. To help you, the key words in the statements have been underlined.

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