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Burundi Launches ‘Soleil-Nyakiriza’ Solar Energy Project for Rural Communities

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Representational image. Credit: Canva

The Burundi government has launched a solar energy project for rural communities with the aim of increasing the electricity access rate and providing clean & efficient cooking solutions. The project, named ‘Soleil-Nyakiriza’ or Rural Community Solar Energy Project, is being rolled out by the Burundian Ministry of Hydraulics, Energy and Mines (MINHEM).

According to the World Bank’s data, the rate of electricity access in this East African country is very low, with just around 3.5% of the population having access to electricity as of 2020. Deforestation has also become a major issue as wood is the main source of cooking for most Burundian households.

Faced with the difficulties of the large energy gap and lack of necessary energy infrastructure, the government launched the ‘Soleil-Nyakiriza’ project with financial support from the World Bank. Over the next few years, the project will deliver off-grid solar systems and improved stoves for clean cooking to rural households.

The program is expected to install solar photovoltaic systems in 65,000 households in Burundi as well as provide clean cooking stoves to 300,000 households in order to reduce deforestation. The necessary equipment will be manufactured by private companies specialized in the production and distribution off-grid solar systems and high-quality cook-stoves to end customers.

The private sector companies involved in the ‘Soleil-Nyakiriza’ will be financed through a specialized fund set within the framework of the solar project. The $17 million fund, called the Solar Energy and Cooking Fund or FESEC, is established by the World Bank for a fixed term until its closure on 1st March 2026.

The MINHEM has appointed the impact investment firm, Bamboo Capital Partners, as the international Administrator-Manager of the FESEC fund in September 2022. According to the investment firm, the fund has three funding windows including start-up grants targeting small and medium-sized industries, growth grants targeting established companies with experience in off-grid solar & clean cooking solutions, and results-based financing targeting the beneficiaries on the basis of sales and installations.

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