Just one year on from securing a power purchase agreement from the Rwandan government and project financing from international aid organisations, solar developer Gigawatt Global has completed construction of its flagship 8.5 MW solar field at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village.
The plant will boost Rwanda’s energy production by six per cent and is the first utility-scale solar facility to come online under the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) initiative, a multi-million dollar program designed to increase access to electricity throughout sub-Saharan Africa by providing seed money for renewable energy projects.
Rwanda’s Minister for Infrastructure joined representatives from major overseas investors including the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), at an opening ceremony for the $23.7 million facility.
“Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative,” said 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’s energy solution.”
The project is located on the grounds of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) – a 144-acre residential community for youth who were orphaned during and after the brutal Rwandan genocide of 1994. The name “Agahozo” derives from the Rwandan for a place “where tears are dried”, and the Hebrew for “live in peace”.
“Anne Heyman, our Founder of blessed memory, held to a vision in which the Village practiced tikkun olam, the Jewish teaching to help heal the world. In addition to our work with Rwanda’s most vulnerable children, we’re now helping to improve the lives of thousands of people through sustainable electricity generation,” said Laurie Toll Franz, ASYV’s Board Chair.
Under a land lease agreement with Village management, fees from the solar plant will help pay for rehabilitation programs and other charitable expenses for the 500 children living at the orphanage. Gigawatt Global will also establish a training program at the Village high school for students interested in learning about solar power.