Published on February 9th, 2015 | by James Ayre17
1st Utility-Scale Solar Energy Project In East Africa Now Online — Rwanda’s Total Grid Capacity Surges 6%
February 9th, 2015 by James Ayre
The first utility-scale solar energy project in the whole of East Africa — Gigawatt Global’s 8.5 megawatt (MW) solar project at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village — is now online.
The completion of the project boosted Rwanda’s total electric grid capacity by ~6%. The project represents the first instance of a utility-scale project reaching financial closure and coming online under the Africa Clean Energy Finance program.
The $23.7 million solar energy project was officially brought online at a ceremony on February 5th. The ceremony was attended by important public figures, such as Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. James Musoni, and the Chief of Staff of the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation, John Morton, amongst others.
“Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative,” stated Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of OPIC. “After OPIC provided critical early-stage support through the ACEF program, Gigawatt smoothly and swiftly brought the project online to give Rwanda enough grid-connected power to supply 15,000 homes. Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa’senergy solution.”
The managing director and co-founder of Gigawatt Global, Chaim Motzen, stated: “Our project proves the viability of financing and building large-scale solar fields in sub-Saharan Africa, and we hope that this solar field serves as a catalyst for many more sustainable energy projects in the region. The speed with which this project was completed is a tribute to the strength of the Rwandan government’s institutions and their laser-focus on increasing Rwanda’s generation capacity as well as to the nimbleness of our team and partners which spanned eight countries.”
As mentioned before, this project was constructed on land owned by the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village — which was put together to support some of Rwanda’s “most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide.”
The agreement between Gigawatt Global and the Village is that the leasing fees provided by the project will be used to pay for some of the Village’s expenses. Gigawatt Global will also reportedly be providing solar energy technology training to some of the students at the Liquidnet High School on the grounds of the Village.