Rwanda will this week host the 7th edition of the Global Off-grid Solar Forum and Expo (GOGSFE) co-hosted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure in collaboration with the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global Program and the industry Global Association for Off-grid Solar Energy (GOGLA).
Last week, local media were taken on a field tour to understand the extent to which the off grid energy is distributed, as well as the beneficiaries, and how accessing the off grid solar energy has improved their livelihoods.
Munyakazi Jean Boaco is a farmer who resides in Bukimba Cell, in the Gihara Village, Runda sector in Kamonyi District, in the Southern Province live free from darkness and capable of accessing information because of owning solar systems.
Before this, Munyakazi says he was in darkness and didn’t access information on the country’s development.
He could walk a long distance to Kigali, in order to have his battery charged because it could help him in viewing television, thus freeing him from isolation. ,
Munyakazi says the journey was extremely tiresome, because it necessitated him to wake up very early in the morning to carry the battery on the head and walk to Nyabugogo, hence waiting for it to be fully charged to capacity, and finally carrying it back to the rural area of Bucyimba.
Finally, he bought a generator which could use petrol at Rwf90, 000 in order to light his household, as well as watching a television. According to him, the journey was indeed cumbersome and rendered him incur losses.
Munyakazi got relieved when started using solar panel for Mysol, formerly Mobisol- which enables him and wife to watch news, football, listen to music and other programs to catch up with the rest.
His wife Nyirahategekima Console says that before they were living in total darkness, but to date, the solar panel has positively transformed their daily livelihoods.
However, residents of Bucyimba Cell say that it is over the year since electrical poles were erected in the area, and are optimistic about getting connected to the on-grid, though they don’t have relevant information, as to when the process will be accomplished.
Niyomugabo Jean de Dieu is a barber at Buhimba, didn’t wait. He saw opportunity in using Mysol solar panel to turn around his pessimistic life since he was unemployed.
“Now the situation has changed, because I render services to client who used to walk two hours to get a hair-cut while I earn a living,” he said.
Niyomugabo simultaneously connects three hair cutting machines and keeps watching the television on all day without disrupting electricity generated and says this is an opportunity to start developmental projects to spur businesses.
Rwagaju Louis, the Corporate Sales Manager at Engie Energy Access Rwanda says that Mysol operates in the whole country, with the objective of supplementing the Government of Rwanda with regard to access to all households in Rwanda electricity by 2024.
Rwagaju reiterates that Mysol’s vision includes distribution of water heating gadgets for domestic usage, and solar panels for lighting within big companies and offering comfort to the clients.
Engie Energy Access owns the Mysol Project since 2014, and over 300,000 citizens use Mysol solar panels, and over 60,000 homes countrywide use its electricity which is generated by the sun and 400 schools.
Energy Private Developers (EPD) membership coordinator, Serge Wilson Muhizi says that as
the Private Sector they are interested in helping the Government to register the vision of accessing electricity to all households in Rwanda by 2024.
Serge Wilson Muhizi reiterates that as the representatives of entrepreneurs, they make advocacy, as per solar energy distribution is concerned, thereby issuing assurance in regard to the accomplishment of Government’s vision, because citizens have got such a program like subsidy.
Muhizi says the Private Sector and the government have role to enable the solar systems affordability for citizens, and there is a subsidy program through cooperation with the World Bank at the tune of US$ 50 million, earmarked for the citizens where 90% of the total cost is covered, and the remaining 10% is paid by citizens in installments by the citizen in accordance their financial capacity.
Rwandans who access electricity account for 73%, with 50% of it from the national grid and the remaining 23% is from solar.
Muhizi says that the private sector will be able to increase its contribution to attain the country’s goals; however more investments will be needed.
GOGLA Communication Manager, Aletta D’cruz, said that the Forum will be an open window for Rwanda to attract more investments and share its best practices based on the current progress made in access to electricity.