John Ssemanda received his Master's degree in Theology from University of Notre Dame in 1977. He continued his graduate studies at Indiana University where he received another Master's degree in Social & Economic Anthropology in 1979. In 1980, John moved to Washington, D.C. where he first tasted success as an entrepreneur by owning several small grocery and liquor stores as well as local delis. Throughout the 1980s, John continued growing the success of his stores until in 1992 when he returned to his native soil of Uganda for the first time in nearly 20 years. John was shocked by what he saw - a nation left in darkness where when the sun went down peoples' ability to work, study, or live productive lives came to a halt.
Returning to the U.S. from his enlightening travel to Uganda, John immediately decided that he must find a way to help alleviate this problem of the darkness in his homeland. John sought out and enrolled in a course on wind energy technology being offered in Pennsylvania which provided him the technical understanding to be able to install the first wind energy systems on Lake Victoria the following year. Also in that year, 1993, John established Solar Energy for Africa - USA (SEFA-USA) which would later give birth to such regional companies such as SEU, Solar Energy Tanzania, Solar Energy Rwanda, Solar Energy Congo, Solar Energy Burundi, Solar Energy Western Kenya, and Solar Energy South Sudan. By the year 1995, John had liquidated all his retail and grocery stores within the Washington, D.C. market and had become completely committed to solar power and alternative energy solutions in Africa.
As previously mentioned, John Ssemanda founded Solar Energy Uganda in 1997 but this was not when he first began working in alternative energy solutions on the continent of Africa. John was directly involved in first introducing solar and wind energy technology to Uganda as far back as 1992. One of the projects he implemented before establishing SEU was with Habitant for Humanity International (Uganda) in which 100 homes were electrified in the village of Kasese through solar energy systems. This project marked the introduction of solar power lighting in Uganda and was John's first substantial effort with the aim to turn 'dark' Africa to a destination of sanity and light even at night.
For John Ssemanda, solar is a long term solution to rural communities in sub Saharan Africa. His commitment to use solar energy as a tool to transform people's lives led him to the construction of a solar assembly plant in Entebbe, Uganda. The plant is essentially to ensure availability of small framed solar panels at an affordable price to millions of rural sub African families.