About 560 vulnerable families in Eastern Province have been connected to off-grid power, thanks to collaboration between the Energy Development Corporation Ltd (EDCL) and Ignite Power, a local solar power firm. Of the beneficiaries, 500 are from Nyagatare District and in the first category of Ubudehe, while 60 are vulnerable genocide survivors from Rwamagana District.
Harriet Murekatete, a beneficiary in Kamate cell, Karangazi sector in Nyagatare District, said her school-going children will now be able to revise and do their homework in a safe environment as they will no longer have to a kerosene lamp.
“It has been particularly challenging for my daughter who is in secondary school because of the fumes produced by the kerosene lamp or limited candle light,” she said on Thursday after Ignite Power technicians had installed her solar power system.
She added that her family has been spending a lot of money on kerosene and candles as well as telephones charging, which she will save after acquiring a solar system from Ignite Power.
“We would need between Rwf250 Rwf300 for kerosene or candles to light the sitting room, kitchen and bedroom. When we run out kerosene, we used to buy three candles at Rwf150, but they would last for less than two hours before burning out,” said Murekatete.
Emmanuel Kamanzi, the managing director of EDCL, said corporation is working with renewable energy companies like Ignite Power to help avail Rwandans off-grid electricity.
“With the national target of increasing off-grid electricity to 22 per cent of the citizens, EDCL works with 24 solar companies to avail electricity in remote villages that cannot easily be connected on the grid,” said Kamanzi.
He called upon Rwandans to embrace off-grid electricity, saying it is affordable and appropriate for small consumers.
“It’s not a mandatory that electricity must be from the grid. We would like to have many homes using off-grid electricity instead of waiting for grid extensions,” he said. Nyagatare District mayor George Mupenzi said they are working with EDCL to ensure all residents access power. He said the collaboration has helped increase power access for both on-grid and off-grid sources.
Ignite Power’s Julius Mugisha said clients pay for the solar systems in monthly or weekly installments, which can run to two years.
“A client can pay Rwf5,000 per month or Rwf1,250 per week as installment payment for two years where they totally own the solar equipment and use them without paying,” he explained.