New plan unveiled to light up homes for 1.7m Rwandans using solar

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A joint Germany-Rwanda plan is scheduled to be unveiled that will provide subsidised solar panels for tens of thousands of homes across the country.

German’s international development agency GTZ announced October 23 that in early 2014 it will roll out the solar power project in partnership with the private sector. The program has been dubbed the ‘result-based financing of renewable energy.’

Some 1.7 million people across Rwanda will benefit, said GTZ in a statement. Private companies will be paid to deploy solar energy panels, build pico hydro power plants and rehabilitate micro-hydro power plants that are currently in poor condition.

“Only those who will have invested in renewable energy will benefit” said Benjamin Attigah,  the GIZ Energising Development programme manager. “The idea is to encourage the private sector to take on the role of rural electrification, especially in remote areas that have no accesses to the national grid. The development of appropriate business models in the solar business will also accelerate the roll out of renewable technologies in Rwanda.”

The project planners say the program will allow rural Rwandan families to save up to Rwf60,000 (US$96) per year through reduced expenditure on lighting and phone charging.

At present, about 16 percent of the population has access to electricity. The government has consequently set itself a target of at least 48 percent of the population having access to electricity by 2017.

To get there, already a massive rural electrification program has begun with eastern Rwanda. In Kirehe and Ngoma districts, almost all homes are connected to the power grid. The program is slowly being extended to all other districts.

The World Bank has also approved $60m in additional financing for the extension of electricity to Rwandan schools, health centres, hospitals and other public facilities.

At present, Rwanda has about 110MW of electricity, and government wants to have 1000MW by 2017 from various sources including hydro, methane gas, peat, solar and biogaz.

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Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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