Rwanda launches the first utility-scale solar power plant in East Africa

Utility-scale solar power plants are coming online in Rwanda

During the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 almost all infrastructure was damaged and the energy sector was extremely affected.  In the past few years, however, Rwanda has made significant progress to recover its economy and solar energy is starting on the path to what could be a fantastic Cleanleap.

The EDPRS II (Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy) is a key component is to facilitating investment in Rwanda.  The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was created specifically to accelerate national development activities to meet the growing energy demands of the population and for the operations of Rwandan industries.

60 Km from Kigali, a solar power plant located in Rubona sector, Rwamagana District, in Agahozo Shalom Village (ASYV) was inaugurated on February 5th, 2015. This was achieved after that the Government of Rwanda through MININFRA (Ministry of Infrastructure) signed a Power Purchase Agreement in July 2013 with GigaWatt Rwanda Limited to develop the first grid-level solar electric generating plant in the region. The plant is comprised of 28,600 solar photovoltaic modules each with 300Wp (Watt-peak), eight inverters and is connected to the national grid and Gigawatt shall operate and maintain the on-grid solar power plant for a period of 25 years. This solar power plant is currently connected to the national grid and will supply power to 15,000 households.

Solar photovoltaic modules nearer view

This solar power plant has a value of US $23.7 million is expected to yield 8.5 megawatts, and according to the MININFRA officials, it will be the first of its kind in East Africa and the third in Africa after the ones in South Africa and Mauritius were commissioned last year.

According to REG (Rwanda Energy Group), this solar power will produce 6% of Rwanda’s total current capacity - generating power of 156 MW. The Rwandan government target is to increase the power capacity produced to 563 MW by 2018, through increasing investments in hydro, coal, methane gas, and solar power. The government's initiative to invest in the biggest solar power plant in East Africa is the beginning of the most significant projects expected to promote the clean energy usage solutions.

The Government of Rwanda's  2014-2015 budget allocated Rwandan 148.6 billion francs to the energy sector that will be used in the electricity generation, transmission and distribution, alternative sources of energy promotion and energy efficiency and supply security.

Agahozo Shalom Youth Village 

Gigawatt has deep expertise in helping different governments to create environmental-friendly power solutions. This project is an innovative concept from American-Israeli green entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, a pioneer of Israel’s solar industry. Choosing to install the utility-scale solar at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) was based on this being an excellent location in relation to solar irradition but also has a positive social impact. ASYV is an organization whose mission is to take care of Rwanda’s most vulnerable children orphaned by the Genocide against the Tutsi. ASYV leased its land to the government and the lease amount of money paid will be helping to cover day-to-day village expenses during the 25 years, and Gigawatt also provide regular training to the students of the Liquid Net High School situated at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, and of course change the lives of the Eastern province population.