Burera island connected to off-grid power

Josephine Mukayuhi had never dreamt of living in a house with electricity as long as she remained on a remote island in Lake Burera in the Northern Province.

Josephine Mukayuhi had never dreamt of living in a house with electricity as long as she remained on a remote island in Lake Burera in the Northern Province.

The mother of six is a resident of Birwa II Island located in Lake Burera, where she was born and bred.
“We depended on kerosene-powered lanterns for light while a few that could afford used candles,” said the 46-year-old.

But things have since changed for the better in Mukayuhi’s household.

As this reporter alighted from a boat to the island, Mukayuhi, whose house is near the docking site, was busy going about her daily chores but took time off to explain to The New Times how she got electricity in her home.

The island is powered by BBOXX, an international company based in London and currently operating in 14 countries.

Seated on a bed, the woman looks at the table where a battery is disposed and shows me how it produces enough energy for lighting, charging their mobile telephones as well as listening to the radio.

“We heard of BBOXX and we subscribed for the solar energy, they came and installed everything and now we have enough light,” she says.

“Our lives have since changed. We used to use kerosene and candles inside the house and torches outside. It was expensive and sometimes we lacked money to buy them,” she says.

“Our children found it difficult to revise their books but now they have access to light and their performance has since improved,” she adds.

Mukayuhi is among residents in the remote area who subscribed for renewable energy.

“It is cheaper to use electricity. I could spend more than Rwf7, 000 on kerosene, radio batteries and phone charging, but now I spend only Rwf5, 000 monthly on electricity and I am about to finish paying off the cost for installing solar energy,” she said.

Beneficiaries have signed an agreement with BBOXX on the method of paying. Each beneficiary pays Rwf180, 000 to get equipped with the necessary requirements for solar energy.

“We are no longer living in darkness. Although we had been promised electricity from the national grid, our hope had faded since we live in an isolated area,” Mukayuhi said.

Appolinaire Rwishyura, another solar energy beneficiary in Burera District, said lives were changing positively, not only for those connected to the renewable energy, but their neighbours as well.

“We have witnessed tremendous development in the last few months. Our children are able to revise and we are also able to charge our phones,” says Rwishyura, a father of four.

Justus Mucyo, BBOXX managing director, said the company aims at connecting people in remote areas to electricity.

He said over 600 households have been connected to electricity since the programme was rolled out in May last year.

Mucyo said they plan to open branches in other districts across the country to reach out to more people and enable their customers use computers, fridges, TVs, among other electronics.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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