[SPONSORED]: Amashanyarazi kuri bose: EDCL kicks off Rural Electrification campaign

This month the government through Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) has kicked off a rural electrification campaign that will see Rwandans staying 37 meters from wooden distribution poles get connected to electricity and many others have access to electricity through off-grid solar energy connections.
Emmanuel Kamanzi, the Director General of Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL)
Emmanuel Kamanzi, the Director General of Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL)

This month the government through Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) has kicked off a rural electrification campaign that will see Rwandans staying 37 meters from wooden distribution poles get connected to electricity and many others have access to electricity through off-grid solar energy connections.

The New Times’ Minnie Karanja in an exclusive interview with Emmanuel Kamanzi, the Director General of Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) found out how the new rural electrification campaign will boost electrification of rural Rwandan households and how private companies offering off -grid energy solutions can be a part of the campaign.

 

The target for electricity access for the Government of Rwanda is for 70% of households to have access by 2017/18. How does the government plan to achieve the target?

 

The electricity access countrywide today stands at 25 per cent and the remaining 75 per cent use other source of energy for lighting, most of which are unsafe and unhealthy such as kerosene.

 

The target set out in the Rural Electrification Strategy of achieving 70 per centof electricity access by 2017/2018.Of this, at least 48 per cent of the households will be either connected to the national grid or own an off grid large Solar Home System categorized as Tier 2, which is capable of providing the same electricity as the national grid. 22 per cent will own a smaller off grid system categorized as Tier 1 (please describe this, is it also able to provide the same electricity as the grid?)

Clearly the achievement of the above set targets still leaves 30 per cent of Rwandan households without access to electricity by the end of EDPRS 2. Nonetheless, we intend to have all Rwandans use clean renewable sources of energy for lighting in lieu of kerosene.

Also, following the need to exceed the targets through off grid electrification and potentially achieve 100% by the end of EDPRS 2, The Ministry of Infrastructure through EDCL is currently working with eligible solar systems suppliers to provide access to electricity in off grid areas of Rwanda using Stand Alone Solar Systems. Ccurrently we have Mobisol, Iginite and Neseltec as the key parterners in this campaign.

Please tell us about the AMASHANYARAZI KURI BOSE awareness campaign.

To achieve the goal of 100 per cent electrification that I just mentioned, we have planned this robust awareness campaign. It is also dabbed ‘Amashanyarazi kuri bose’ and  will aim to sensitize households that can afford to buy a solar home system. More than 75 per cent of the Rwandan population falls under Ubudehe category 2 and above which means that many households can afford to buy a solar system. We intend to raise funds for the households that cannot afford solar systems.

Off grid electrification will be provided through the private sector partnership with EDCL. Companies will provide systems to the households on credit and the households pay back over a period of 2 to 3 years on a monthly basis. This allows households which would otherwise not afford a one-off payment to afford systems through payment by installments.

The objective of the campaign is also to create awareness among the off grid areas citizens, local authorities and partners about the government’s goal of achieving 70 per cent electrification with a minimum of 22 per cent off grid contribution, eradicate the use of kerosene for lighting and other hazardous lighting fuels. It is not only promoting the use of renewable energy but also reduction on dependence on use of firewood and charcoal by replacing  them with LPG- Liquidated Petroleum Gas which is now easily accessible countrywide at subsidized costs.

What are advantages to Rwandan households using off grid systems

Aside from the fact that off grid energy is clean and therefore healthy, it is cheap and reliable. There no power cut issues with off grid systems. When paid for at once, there are no monthly or weekly payments to be made and this makes is particularly cheaper than on grid connectivity. For instance, a household that uses only 15 Watts, an off grid system which costs Rwf. 65,000 is enough to meet the power needs.

With the new technologies in off grid connectivity, no one should wait for 3 to 5 years waiting to be connected to the national grid for electricity. The best thing about off grid is that you can continue to use it even after you have been connected to the  national grid. This way one will never experience any power cuts. 

Solar energy is clearly important to support off grid electricity supply. How is EDCL working with eligible solar systems suppliers?

Certainlyelectrification is not only a grid connection. Solar systems offer cheap, reliable and immediate solutions for most households needs.

EDCL has so far signed agreement with Mobisol Rwanda, NESELTEC and Ignite Rwanda which will provide quality solar systems. Other solar companies have also been called to express their interest to participate in the campaign by providing solar solutions. So far 21 have been registered and are being screened before they can sign an agreement with EDCL to ascertain that they provide the required quality and after sales service to the end users.

Through the agreement, EDCL will;

Ensure that quality solar products suppliers are in place and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

Ensure that systems are distributed according to the Rural Electrification Strategy to ensure that electrification goals are being met

Identify off grid areas for the campaign

Ensure that off grid companies report their sales on time and accurately

Ensure that after sales service is carried out by the companies

Support companies in their product marketing and well as fund mobilization

How can interested solar system suppliers partner with EDCL?

Normally this is done through competitive bidding through which we issue out a call for proposal in which interested companies apply to work with us. We look at their proposals and after evaluation the successful bidders sign an agreement with us. It is simple and easy to encourage the private sector to partner with us and venture into the energy sector.

The 2nd call for proposal has just been closed and those who did not apply need to wait for the 3rd call for proposal in accordance to the new Public Private Partnerships law.

Solar system size and quality that are eligible in this campaign.

Tier 1: Minimum 3 Lights + phone+ radio

Tier 2: Minimum 3 Lights + Phone + TV

Tier 3: Minimum 3 Lights + Phone+ TV + Fridge

 

Level

     Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Energy usage

Task lighting, radio and phone charging

Household lighting and TV

Tier 2 pus low power refrigeration

Tier 3 plus high power appliances such as pumping

24/7 high power suited to commercial and industrial uses

 

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