'Prepaid energy' launched in Eastern Province

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Minister Germaine Kamayirese talks to journalists as EU Ambassador Macheal Ryan looks on.(Stephen Rwembeho)

A project expected to help light hundreds of households in Eastern Province was yesterday launched in Rwamagana District.

Dubbed ‘Prepaid Energy’, the project is being funded by The European Union (EU) in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and Mobisol, East Africa’s largest provider of rent-to-own solar power for low-income rural households.

The launch was presided over by the EU ambassador to Rwanda, Michael Ryan, and Germaine Kamayirese, the Minister of State for Energy, Water and Sanitation at the Ministry of Infrastructure.

The ceremony was preceded by official switching on of the system at Umunini Village, Uruhimbi Cell, Gishari Sector, Rwamagana.

The Government, Mobisol and the EU have agreed to jointly facilitate access to clean and reliable energy for 49,000 households and 1,000 schools across the country.

According to authorities, 50,000 high quality solar systems will be supplied and installed to reach approximately 645,000 beneficiaries in the Eastern Province in four years time.

Amb. Ryan said the EU will provide a grant of 6m Euros ( about Rwf5.2 billion) that will be supplemented by private and governmental investment - bringing the project budget to over 22m Euros.

“We commend the government in its efforts to reduce poverty and transform the lives of citizens. This can be consolidated through increased access to sustainable energy. The EU is proud to be associated with such an innovative project,” he said.

Ryan said Mobisol project aims at enabling rural households in Rwanda access electricity.

Thomas Gottschalk, Managing Director of Mobisol, said the company will facilitate access to solar energy for low-income households through an easy mobile money payment plan.

He said an extended warranty and a full service package, including free maintenance for three years, would be provided.

“This project will make a difference in people’s lives. It paves way for sustainable ecological and economic development. Rwanda indeed has the historic opportunity to leapfrog costly electrical grid systems and environmentally damaging fossil fuels and become a model for a sustainable renewable energy future worldwide,” he said.

“We are happy to join forces to bring power to thousands of Rwandans,” Gottschalk said.

Minister Kamayirese said the project would boost the country’s target to increase community access to electricity to 70 per cent. Currently, the national power access is at 22 per cent.

“We shall use other sources like solar energy and not depend entirely on the national grid,” she said.

Mobisol has been operating in Rwanda since January 2014 and has since connected more than 2,000 households.