On April 4th, 2017, SUCCEED Network partners from the University of Rwanda organised a National Round Table to discuss the status of Energy in Rwanda. This took place at the headquarters of the Rwanda Energy Group Ltd. in Kigali.
The event aimed to bring together top management the Rwanda National Electric Agency, the Rwanda Energy Group (REG), managers from energy industries (EARP), and researchers from Higher Education Institutions, development partners with the objective of exchanging ideas and discussing energy issues at a national level in Rwanda.
The specific objectives of the National Round Table were to:
- To discuss problems and issues in the field of Energy affecting National Stakeholders, with the idea of identifying where the Higher Education System could contribute with specific services/input.
- To enhance awareness of the real needs of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) related to energy access and efficiency in Rwanda.
- To encourage dialogue and strengthen co-operation links in the energy sector at national level among academia, researchers, industries and policy makers.
- To present the Succeed Network projects and their developments.
- To discuss the expected outcomes of the Round Table Forum.
The National Round Table brought together several relevant stakeholders in the field of Energy in Rwanda, including representatives from the University of Rwanda, the Rwanda Energy Group Ltd., Rwanda Energy Private Developers, Mobisol Rwanda, Symbion Power Lake Kivu, Scaling Up Energy Access Project, Rwanda Utilities Regulation Agency, African Development Bank and the EU delegation in Rwanda.
In the discussions it was clear that great progress has been made across a number of areas in recent years: a dedicated electricity utility established (Rwanda Energy Group); reinforcement of the national electric grid and its expansion; increased urban electric access and off-grid initiatives being implemented; an attractive investment climate established and a pipeline of projects developed. The Rural Electrification Strategy (2016) has also been very important, and has supported the Rwanda Electricity Access Roll out Program (EARP) mainly in remote areas through Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP), while EARP focuses on productive users.
However, despite this progress and the strategies that have been put in place by REG/EARP, the participants recognized the need to involve the larger community and enhance public participation in the development energy programs and projects and their implementation. To this end some strategic areas which need to be focused on for a sustainable development were identified:
- Networking: Partnership between stakeholders by creating platforms which will boost interaction of stakeholders at national level and the University.
- Resource mobilization: coordination/collaboration between stakeholders and mutual assistance in resource mobilization.
- Research and development: Promotion of research outcomes in renewable energy and dissemination of information to stakeholders and communities.
- Capacity building: government and stakeholders to engage into systematic capacity building process to create a critical mass of technicians at all levels and all District and Sector levels who are capable of installing, operating, maintaining, repairing renewable energy technologies in the country.
- Internships for students both undergraduates and Masters: this will help students and scientists of UR engage more in energy industries through knowledge and technology transfer systems in order to develop renewable energy technologies.
- Consultancy: involvement of university scientists in studies related to energy is a driver for a sustainable development.
- Promotion of alternative energy: public sensitization and mobilization towards the use of alternative energy such as Biogas, Solar and improved cook stoves especially for households far off the national grid in all Districts. This is in-line with the country’s objective of reducing biomass dependency from the current 85%, to 55% by 2017, and 50% by 2020.
The Round Table participants also recognised the effort done by partners of the SUCCEED Network project in Rwanda to create a framework for collaboration between HEIs, the industry and development partners.
To conclude, it was reminded that all stakeholders have their own roles to fulfil in this process, which is why interactions from all stakeholders are strongly needed in order to successfully attain the country’s Energy goals. Finally, the key strategic areas of action identified for the way-forward constituted an informal agreement amongst the workshop participants, and they were urged to pro-actively take steps to ensure that these actions were taken forward and implemented.
In accompaniment to the National Round Table, a Training Workshop on Fundraising was organized for the participants by the University of Rwanda partners. As a result, the participants have begun working on a document “Fundraising Approached” to support people looking for funding for energy projects.