Rwanda Corporate Companies Challenged to Light Up Families on Christmas

Liliane Igihozo Uwera-, the Special Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) Coordinator at BRD

The Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) has launched a new corporate social responsibility challenge that will see 10,000 families connected to solar energy this festive season.

The challenge, dubbed #CanaChallenge, was launched this December 16, 2021 as a campaign companies, individuals and government organs can make a voluntary pledge or contribution to light up a Rwandan family that is on the off-grid and cannot access electricity.

The campaign comes as a leaf of the ongoing 5- year World Bank (WB) funded $48million Rwanda Renewable Energy (REF) program which has seen over Rwf9billion spent to connect over 94,000 households and small businesses with subsidized solar energy systems under the Cana Uhendukiwe program.

Introduced in 2018, the Cana Uhendukiwe program, a subsidized financing product, offers solar power lighting to citizens through loan windows acquired through 70 Savings Cooperative (Saccos) to households, commercial banks and MFIs, and 25 off-grid solar companies.

With CANA Uhendukiwe, an applicant chooses the kind of loan they want and once approved, all the installation is done by one of the solar companies.

One of the most common solar system product families prefer to apply for costs Rwf150,000 which is payable according to terms and conditions of the supplier.

Liliane Igihozo Uwera-, the Special Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) Coordinator at BRD said that this is the best time to launch the campaign to support government efforts towards access to electricity for all by 2024.

Rwanda targets 100% access to electricity in 7 years by 2024. As of today, 61.7% Rwanda households are connected to electricity, 49% to the national grid whereas 18% are connected to the off-grid system

“Cana Uhendukiwe program has contributed about 80% of the off-grid connection but we have seen that there are still many families who cannot afford to pay for the solar power, thus launching this campaign will enable us to reach more,” Uwera said during a press briefing today.

Uwera said that the challenge intends to connect 10,000 families within the next two months but to kick start the pledges and contributions the bank will offer a top up of Rwf100,000 per each Rwf15,000 that will be offered.

This means that the BRD Bank will top up to Rwf 1.5 million in the challenge and will be looking for about Rwf150million from the corporate community and society in Rwanda.

The Cana Challenge is relatively built on the same concept of the ongoing #ConnectRwanda program that was launched in 2019, with intention to donate smart phones to unconnected, rural and vulnerable communities in the country.

“For this to succeed we are also starting from within the bank and its staff who will also have a contribution to the challenge, before we take it to other banks, companies and government institutions,” Uwera stated.

Justin Ndatabaye, a Senior Manager Investment at BRD explained that the challenge is part of a corporate social responsibility aimed at making it possible to light up as many off-grid families as possible.

“This is totally a corporate social responsibility program of which we can attain by making that small sacrifice to light up the lives of other families,” Ndatabaye said.

Alida Ikuzwe, the BRD Manager Energy Portfolio said that contributing to the challenge will not only light up the lives of some Rwandans but also contribute to the green and clean energy agenda which the government has committed to in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The Government of Rwanda has announced an ambitious climate action agenda that features a 38% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to business as usual by 2030, equivalent to an estimated mitigation of up to 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).




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