An 8.5MW solar power plant built in the shape of the African continent has been launched today in Rwanda becoming the first utility-scale facility of its kind in east Africa.
The $23.7m Rwanda Field plant, funded through the Power Africa Initiative supported by the US President Barack Obama, represents a major milestone in the initiative’s efforts to improve access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
"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," said Chaim Motzen, managing director of Gigawatt Global, who was responsible for the project’s delivery.
The plant, located on land owned by the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village providing accommodation to children orphaned during the Rwanda genocide, has been completed in less than a year.
Gigawatt Global is leasing the land with the fees used to partially cover the charity’s expenses. The company said it plans to start solar-power training classes for children studying at the Liquidnet High School on the grounds of the village.
With an expected lifetime of 20 years, the facility is said to generate enough power for 15,000 homes.
“Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa's energy solution,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, president and CEO of the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), who provided part of the funding.
The project, part of the Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) program, has brought together over 90 international partners contributing to the project's financing as well as technical development.