Officials from the ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) have announced that the renewable energy fund project is nearing completion and will enable the Rwandan government achieve its goal of universal access to energy. The programme of scaling up rural electrification is implemented by the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD).

Robert Nyamvumba, the director of the Energy Division in the Ministry of Infrastructure, said that their major task was to streamline financial mechanisms which aim at achieving universal access to energy in the country. He was speaking on Friday at a high level consultative meeting of stakeholders including REG/EDCL, RDB, MINIREND, RSB/NSD, EPD, commercial banks and SACCOs among others.

Nyamvumba said all initiatives aim to increasing renewable energy supply, in accordance with the government’s goal of providing cheap and affordable energy. He said that the meeting exclusively focused on safeguard instruments rather than the technical and financial ones, adding that those, like the interest rates on loans to energy developers, would be addressed in other forums in the future.

“All the efforts you see are geared at accelerating renewable energy to support the initiatives of the Rwandan government to provide cheap and affordable energy to all Rwandans,” Nyamvumba observed.

Dr. Livingstone Byamungu, the chief investment officer at BRD, said that $180 million out of $712 million for the entire project were meant to develop on- and off-grid energy, adding that they had in the recent past embarked on the development of off-grid energy.

He added that BRD was closely working with all the stakeholders such as SACCOs, Solar companies, commercial banks and other private operators.  All efforts, he added, will in the long term result in an increase in the number of clients to the banks and therefore creation of awareness of this programme was vital.

“The five-year project will stimulate demand and the banks will have more customers,” Byamungu said.

He also said that lending will be done through SACCOs and commercial banks at a low interest rate that will be agreed upon by MININFRA and BRD.

“It’s going to be cheaper and more affordable to energy suppliers,” Byamungu noted.

Reacting to concerns expressed during the meeting regarding expropriation compensation, the WB and BRD consultant on the resettlement policy framework, Theogene Habukubaho, assured that implementation will not start before the affected residents are compensated in accordance with the expropriation law that stipulates that compensation should be paid within 20 days after the valuers have assessed a property.

Three commercial banks and 10 top performing SACCOs have already been selected as lenders by BRD and the list of financial institutions will grow in accordance to the growth in demand, officials said during the workshop.