Abu Dhabi loan to finance off-grid solar for 500,000 homes

U.S$ 15 million (about Rwf12.6bn) Abu Dhabi loan will help contribute to the installation of 500,000 off-grid solar PV home systems in Rwanda, providing clean electricity for lighting, mobile phone and radio charging.

U.S$ 15 million (about Rwf12.6bn) Abu Dhabi loan will help contribute to the installation of 500,000 off-grid solar PV home systems in Rwanda, providing clean electricity for lighting, mobile phone and radio charging.

The funding is part of U.S$ 25 million concessional loans announced over the weekend by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), a national entity for development aid, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a global platform for international cooperation on renewable energy- to benefit Rwanda and Mauritius.

The project is a major part of the Rwanda government’s rural electrification strategy, and is said to be one of the most affordable payment schemes in Africa.

It employs a flexible mobile payment platform, essential in areas poorly served by banking and transportation infrastructure.

At least 2.5 million people in rural communities are expected to benefit from improved electricity access, and more than 2,000 local jobs will be created.

Thanks to the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, almost 120 MW of renewable energy capacity will be brought online to support increased energy access, improved livelihoods, and cleaner air quality.

The funding is earmarked for two solar PV projects, one each in Mauritius and Rwanda, according to a statement.

Announced at the Eighth Session of the IRENA Assembly, both projects – beneficiaries of the fifth funding cycle – are being financed through the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility.

Established in 2013, this seven-cycle facility offers US$350 million in concessional loans from ADFD to help developing countries access low-cost capital for renewable energy projects.

The projects have the potential to significantly transform the lives of over 2.5 million people and alleviate poverty by bringing affordable energy to low-income communities.

Renewable energy can positively impact the whole sustainable development spectrum in terms of improved health and education outcomes, better livelihoods and working conditions, and lower air pollution, according to experts.

The loans cover up to 50 percent of project costs, leveraging additional funding from other sources.

Since 2014, ADFD has allocated U.S$214 million to 21 projects, attracting over U.S$420 million in additional co-financing from governments and development funds.

“For developing countries, renewable energy is a triple win: it provides a cost-effective means of providing electricity to families, fuels economic growth, and supports energy independence and security,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said in the statement.

“However, many developing countries have trouble accessing financing for renewable energy investment. We are delighted that our continued partnership with ADFD will provide a stable, low-cost source of financing to help Mauritius and Rwanda achieve a sustainable energy future.”

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD, is quoted as saying that collaboration with IRENA articulates ADFD's core mandate to support sustainable economic and social progress across developing countries through financing development projects that serve vital economic sectors.

He noted that ADFD priorities renewable energy as a catalyst for inclusive economic and social development.

“At ADFD, we believe that through the widespread promotion of sustainable energy projects in countries with immense clean energy potentials, we can contribute to the long term economic prosperity of communities across the word. We are confident that the latest projects selected for funding in Mauritius and Rwanda will deliver sizeable benefits for the economies of local communities,” he said.

In Mauritius, the ADFD loan of U.S$10 million will help the Central Electricity Board install solar PV systems on rooftops of 10,000 households as part of the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty whilst contributing to the national target of achieving 35 percent of renewable electricity in the energy mix by 2025.

An estimated 35,000 people in low income communities will benefit from significant electricity bill savings. The project will bring 10 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity online, resulting in savings of over U.S$ 35 million in fossil fuel imports over the project lifetime and improvements in the energy security of the country.

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