By Elias Hakizimana
The energy sector of Rwanda yesterday gained a financial support worth $50million Fund which will be useful to drive up private sector’s investment in off-grid electrification.
This fund is managed by the World Bank and implemented though Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD). It is expected to benefit about 445,000 households in the next seven years (2017-2024).
The fund will increase access to electricity by about 19 percent while the current energy access rate is about 40 percent. The renewable energy fund project is in line with Rwanda’s vision 2020 and will be given to SACCOs, commercial and microfinance institutions to help them provide affordable loans to their clients to buy solar systems.
Mini-grids and private developers in the country will also benefit from the funds through certain facilities to help them meet the national targets.
According to Dr Livingstone Byamungu, the Chief Investment Officer at BRD, the main objective of the fund is to increase affordability and reduce access to finance challenges facing rural communities to afford solar energy.
“We have identified some SACCOs in rural areas closer to districts which are still less electrified and will work with households by providing them with affordable loans. Commercial banks and micro-enterprises will sign agreements to help households afford energy,” said Byamungu.
He said that the target beneficiaries are households and businesses with an objective to replace the use of Kerosene, diesel and dry cell batteries.
All the ‘Tier 1 off-grid solutions’ that provide a basic energy service level such as lighting, radio and cell phone charging will benefit from the funds.
Robert Nyamvumba, the Energy Division Manager at the Ministry of Infrastructure, noted that the fund will go a long way in increasing the role of off-grid solution in national electricity roll-out focusing on rural areas.
The Government of Rwanda envisions reaching universal energy access (52% on-grid connection and 48% off-grid) by 2024.
“We are looking at putting more efforts in connecting households in districts which are underserved to provide them with deliverable, achievable renewable energy to support the vision of our country,” said Byamungu.
The World Bank Country Manager Yasser El Gammal said the fund is expected to facilitate the deployment of an estimated 445,000 off-grid connections and benefit 1.8 million people, 52 percent of whom are women.
The latest initiative will benefit some districts such as Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Gakenke, Gisagara and Gicumbi which have less that 10 per cent energy access.
Three major off-grid power operators namely: Mobisol, BBoxx and Ignite power are currently acknowledged to have contributed so far about 11 percent of national target.
SACCOs ready to serve
Jean Damascene Vuguziga, the manager of Ngarama SACCO in Gatsibo district said that they are ready to provide good service to the citizens to benefit from this fund.
“We are happy for this initiative coming to benefit our rural citizens and as we have got this opportunity, our SACCO will work closer with citizens through positive sensitization on solar system use and we will ensure we provide good services,” said Vuguziga.
Adelphine Niyomuhire, student technician in Ignite Power Limited said that the fund project will boost them with efforts to raise productivity and avail affordable solar systems to the citizens.
“This is a solution for many Rwandans, I think this initiative is going to increase their love towards the country as they are facilitated to lighten their houses,” she said.
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