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Renewable energy mini-grids help improve energy access in Rwanda

East Africa

Rwanda granted funds to connect 80,000 rural households with electricity

The East African country targets to generate 60% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved $84.22 million in loans and grants to electrify nearly 80,000 rural households in south Rwanda. The project will advance the country’s goal of universal electrification and benefit small businesses and youth. 

Rwanda has a national electrification rate of just over 42% as of 2020 and hopes to achieve 100% electricity access by 2030. An estimated 30% of Rwandan households are connected to the national grid while 11% are accessing electricity through off-grid solutions, mainly solar energy. The East African country has an installed energy generation capacity of just over 218 MW with much of the capacity coming from hydroelectricity, thermal coal and solar. 

Rwanda targets to generate 60% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The funds extended by AfDB comprises a loan of $36.77 million from the Bank Group’s African Development Fund and a $47.45 million ADF grant. The approval was made on 26 May.

The Transmission System Reinforcement and Last Mile Connectivity project will provide first-time electricity connection to 77,470 households to the grid, entailing the construction of 595 km of medium voltage distribution lines and 1,620 km of low voltage distribution networks in six southern Rwanda districts. The project will also see the upgrade, rehabilitation and extension of 1,720 km of low voltage network, and distribution of transformers in secondary cities with high load.

Improving power supply reliability in Rwanda

The project is expected to improve power supply reliability and stability across the country, expand electricity access and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by enabling access to clean energy. The project is also expected to bolster education by extending students’ access to light for study, and benefit small and medium enterprises while enhancing job creation for youth.

The project is part of the Rwanda Universal Energy Access Program (RUEAP), which seeks among other goals, to achieve universal access to electricity by 2024. It is also aligned with the country’s long-term development framework, Vision 2050.

The project also draws from two of the Bank’s High-5 strategic priorities:  Light Up and Power Africa and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

Renewable energy mini-grids are expected to play an important role in bridging the electricity access deficit in Rwanda. The Rwandan government’s electrification programmes seems to be gaining momentum with the programme having improved electricity access from 9% in 2009 to 42% by 2020.

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