500 homes connected in Nyagatare in a single day

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By Marcel D. Museminari

Murekatete Harriet 45, and her two children Mugisha and Kayesu will for the first time since they built their house a decade ago, use solar energy to light up their two-bedroom and sitting room house in Buhongora village in Kamate cell, Karangazi sector in Nyagatare district.

Thanks to a partnership agreement between Ignite Power, Rwanda’s largest rural utility and Rwanda’s Energy Development Corporation Ltd (EDCL) and a subsequent contract to light up 500 homes in Nyagatare District, Murekatete, a widow was selected to be one of the two beneficiaries in her village after rigorous selection process, according to the village coordinator, one Kayombya Godfrey.

Her two children both students, will now benefit from the extra light hours at night, to catch up on their school-work. Apart from other advantages that come with clean renewable energy lighting, Murekatete will also be able to charge her mobile phone and assist her neighbors for a fee if so she chooses.

Murekatete said before now, they had to do with a torch and candle light that were juggled between members of her household to attend to different chores in her homestead at night. She looked overwhelmed by the ‘kindness’, and was effusive to the initiative.

The solar home systems by Ignite are equipped with a 10-15 watts solar panel; four lights; a Lithium long life battery; a radio and USB cable multiple-point charger.

The unit comes with a 24 month warranty and has a micro –lending facility attached that allows clients to pay Rwf 5000, about $ 6 per month for two years on rent- to- own basis.

The Murekatete family and 499 eligible others in Ubudehe one category- Rwanda’s ranking for the poorest citizens – were all connected in only one day – Thursday April 6, 2017- only 5 days after the EDCL and Ignite Power penned a contract for the supply and installation of Solar Home Systems in 14 sectors of Nyagatare district and only 2 days after the list of beneficiaries.

Despite harsh weather conditions, the team of installers completed the task within 12 hours, while at the same time continuing to connect 60 more homes of genocide survivors in Rwamagana district.

Company Business Director Cohen Gahire told the press on site in Nyagatare, that a labour force of 1,000 spread across Rwanda, the rural utility was able to connect hundreds of units in one day. Each of Rwanda’s 30 districts has a hub for warehousing; technical and sales support as well as after-sales-maintenance.

District Mayor George Mupenzi after witnessing the connections told journalists April 6, 2017, that power supply would not rely solely on main grid extensions to reach all unserved homes, but also other off –grid sources such as solar energy.

Nyagatare District is underserved by the electricity grid, and many areas of the district were settled after the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. Parts of the game park, formerly given to roaming wildlife and no human infrastructure were degazetted to give room for human settlement.

Most of Ignite Power clients are rural based and off-grid targeting 22% of Rwanda’s population to be connected to off-grid sources home systems by 2018.

In March, EDCL chose Ignite Power in a competitive tender as its supplier and distributor of high quality solar home systems to be deployed in Nyagatare.

Ignite Power reached 25,000 homes connected to solar home systems this month of April, doubling its number of clients since the beginning of the year. This makes it the largest and fastest growing rural utility in the country, merely 9 months after commercial launch.

the company is the most expansive utility among 24 solar power utility companies that work with EDCL to provide off-grid power to inaccessible parts of Rwanda.

The connected homes are part of the largest solar project in Africa with project value of $38m and covers connections of 250,000 homes over the next 2 years.

This post has already been read 3381 times!

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