China donates solar energy systems to Rwanda

The Chinese government on Thursday donated solar energy kit systems to the Rwanda in a bid to enhance the East African nation’s energy sector.

The 416 pieces of solar equipment worth 642,304 U.S. dollars will be installed in the country’s rural areas of the Southern, Northern and Eastern provinces, where there is no access to the state power grid.

The Solar energy mobile power project will help in rural electricity accessibility, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure.

“The kits will boost rural energy accessibility and ultimately improve the well-being of the rural population,” said Eng Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, Rwanda’s state minister in charge of energy and water in the Ministry of Infrastructure.

She was speaking at a ceremony held in the Rwandan, Capital Kigali.

It is expected that at least 400 households, selected under a the five-year National Electrification Planning, will benefit from the project.

Rwanda set an ambitious energy production target of 563 megawatts (MW) by 2017 in order to reduce the country’s electricity deficit.

Lack of access to adequate power remains an obstacle to achieving development targets in the small post-genocide African country.

According to available statistics, only 17 percent of the population in Rwanda has access to electricity.

Shen Yongxiang, the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, said that at the request of the Rwandan government under the framework of “Eight New Measures to Strengthen China-Africa Cooperation”, China agreed to support Rwanda with a batch of solar equipment, including solar modules, cabinets, batteries, switchboards, Compact Fluorescent Lamps and light wires.

The ministry said a team of Chinese experts has been dispatched to conduct the training of 16 locals on the installation, operation and maintenance of the donated equipment.

This development comes after over 100 homes in Nyagatare district, in Eastern Rwanda were installed with solar energy last November in the first phase of the project that is to be rolled out across the country.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Infrastructure, the country needs to invest about 3 billion U.S. dollars to increase access to electricity from 17 percent to 70 percent by 2018.

Rwanda’s energy sector strategic plan and roadmap 2013-2017 seeks to increase the country’s installed capacity from 110.8 MW to 563 MW by 2017, mainly from hydro, peat, methane, geothermal and solar power.

The current generation capacity for solar energy is 280 kilowatt-peak (KWp) which is generated by two on-grid plants of 250 KWp located at Mont Jali in the city suburbs and a 30 KWp at Nelson Mandela Education Center in Bugesera district in eastern Rwanda.

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