At least 250,000 households could soon get access to electricity, thanks to a new deal between the Government of Rwanda and Ignite Power Ltd, a Mauritian firm engaged in large-scale deployment of clean energy solutions in Africa.
The agreement will see Ignite Power Ltd invest more than $50 million (about Rwf37 billion) into off-grid power solution for the next five years, Yariv Cohen, the director of Ignite Power Ltd, said.
The deal provides a framework for large-scale deployment of solar electric systems across rural communities in Rwanda.
It also allows beneficiaries a two-year grace period to pay for the acquired solar systems.
"Distributed solar energy will enable Rwanda to leapfrog beyond the grid and bring power quicker and cheaper to communities. We are, therefore, proud to partner with the Government of Rwanda and take part in this transformational effort of deploying access to energy at a large scale," Cohen said.
The agreement will boost off-grid energy solutions from current 1 per cent to 10 per cent to by 2018, according to the State Minister for Energy, Germaine Kamayirese.
"The project is part of the Vision 2020 plan to increase access to electricity in the rural communities and will enable energy access in places that would be hard to connect to the main grid," Kamayirese said.
"We believe renewable energy projects like this have multiple advantages by providing clean and environmentally- friendly energy."
The government targets to connect at least 70 per cent of Rwanda's households to electricity by 2018 and at least 22 per cent through off-grid solutions.
Jean-Bosco Mugiraneza, the chief executive of Rwanda Energy Group Ltd, urged Ignite Power Ltd to stick to the agreement and have energy delivered to the communities on time
"Significant investment is required in off-grid energy access to meet these targets. The number of households with an off-grid connection is currently at less than 1 per cent, this will need to increase to around 530,000 households by 2017/18, which is equivalent to 22 per cent," Mugiraneza, said.
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, a pilot phase was conducted six months ago through which more than 1000 households in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Rulindo, Gakenke and Kamonyi districts were connected to power.
Rwanda's installed power generation capacity stands at 185 megawatts, against a target of 563 megawatts by 2018. The country is also targeting to increase connectivity to more than 70 per cent of the population by the same time.
Currently, the country's hydro electricity generation capacity accounts for 97.37 megawatts, thermal power at 51.7 megawatts, methane 3.6 megawatts, while 8.75 megawatts is produced from energy solar.
Other efforts to increase power supply include importing 30 megawatts from Kenya - expected by April 2016 - and another 400 megawatts from Ethiopia by 2018.
The government has allocated Rwf135 billion this financial year to the energy sector to increase electricity supply to spur industrial growth.