Category: General News

Solar Energy for laptops in rural schools in Rwanda

Three hundred primary and secondary schools in Rwanda have been connected to electricity thanks to the IREA-RPPP-project and the support provided by the ACP-EU Energy Facility. Rwanda has set an ambitious target of one laptop pr. child in its educational system. For many rural schools this poses a challenge: How to power laptops, when your school is not connected to electricity? The solution offered by the project is solar energy and today more than two hundred thousand children go to schools that has electricity.

The project “Increased Renewable Energy Access in Rwanda through Public Private Partnerships” (IREA-RPPP) was initially designed to boost energy access through both solar- and hydropower. In the first year, the project components were split: the major hydropower projects became part of a Belgian supported hydropower-programme, and the purely EU-funded component focused mainly on off-grid solar energy. In this way, synergies were optimised between the development partners and the Rwandan government.

IREA-RPPP employed a very thorough selection process requiring that the schools targeted for support match several criteria: most importantly, they should be off-grid without the likelihood for grid connection for several years to come, so distance to the existing grid was important. Also, a certain number of students was required to maximise impact, and a necessary quality of buildings was needed to minimise theft of cables, outlets and lightbulbs. It was also important that school staff showed interest in and motivation to maintain the systems.

The technical design was adapted to the context: the condition of rural school buildings can be varied, they can be located at different orientations to the sun, and with a staff that has different levels of capacity and interest in technical maintenance. Systems were therefore placed within a fenced perimeter at the school premises with the panels mounted on a rack, inclined to their optimal position towards the sun, and with inverters, regulators and batteries placed in a small ventilated building below them.

This design resolves issues of finding suitable location for the panels and other equipment. The choice of lithium-ion batteries, the high energy capacity of the systems and the overall high quality of equipment and installations has meant that very few maintenance issues had risen even after several years of use. The large bulk of the systems will have a long lifetime before batteries or inverters needs to be replaced.

As a result of the project, the 300 schools use laptops in class and teachers have better work condition due to electricity access in the school. Some schools have even started to exploit systems in new ways using it to power computers and overhead projectors, loud speakers for communal singing, supply nearby buildings with electricity and offer services like hair cutting for children.

Flagship project for the development of Renewable Energies in Cote d’Ivoire

The Zanzan region is located in north-eastern Cote d’Ivoire, which is a zone with sporadic electricity network coverage in comparison with other regions of the country. Without electricity, there is no public lighting, no freezers, no radios or televisions. The local inhabitants have made use of kerosene lamps and battery-operated torches for lighting the home, at an excessive cost for such a poor population.

Thanks to the support of the European Union, the NGO Delegation Fondation Akwaba and their Spanish technical partner Azimut 360 has installed photovoltaic mini-grids in 7 isolated villages in the region of Zanzan. This project, is an innovative first step in the field of solar mini-grids in Cote d’Ivoire.

Several technical solutions were implemented to guarantee that electricity demands could be met through the mini-grids: 1) distribution losses were minimised and the system design ensured adequate capacity for generation and storage; 2) the mini-grid installations are equipped with a diesel generator that automatically kicks in when the batteries reach a defined minimum, thereby reducing the energy storage requirements to provide a 24-hour service; 3) the application of a business model that makes use of smart meters that automatically interrupt the electricity supply when clients consume more than their pre-defined daily limits.

Based on this technical design and with the financial support of the EU and other donors, all 7 villages have access to electricity 24/7, providing the first reliable solar electricity supply in the country. The quality of life of inhabitants have been improved in several respects: socially, particularly in the evening due to public lighting; economically as a result of business development activities, the return of the youth to the village etc.

The change in living conditions after the implementation of the mini-grids was fundamental, as expressed by Adengra Moîs Kouadio, from Kapé village:

‘Life before electricity is not comparable with life today. We used to be blind, now we can see’.

Let the machines do the work!

An innovative project in Benin to help rural citizens with laborious agricultural tasks was successfully implemented due to an effective way of selecting capable operators as well as the use of locally produced equipment. ”SETUP: Services Energétiques et Techniques à Usage Productif au Bénin” aimed to solve a practical problem. The processing of agricultural products has traditionally been performed with hard physical labor, mostly performed by women. One example is the task of molding corn for daily meals which requires much effort from women in rural areas of Benin. This project installed 26 multifunctional platforms. Each platform consists of a building with a large room where an engine powers agro-processing equipment, such as a corn mill and an oil press. Neighboring farmers can bring their produce, pay a fee for using the machines, and efficiently let the machine do the work previously performed with physical labor. To find the right people to operate the platforms, the project organized a grand competition in cooperation with the local municipalities in order to select the best associations and private entrepreneurs. In addition, much equipment was produced by local artisans. This has made it much easier for local technicians to handle repairs afterwards. Five years after the platforms were installed, most are still in use. The clever setup, with the availability of local technicians to handle repairs and qualified operators, has resulted in a sustainable project where operators have seen new opportunities and expanded their businesses, farmers have gained vital access to expensive machinery, and the burden of some physical labor has been lifted off the shoulders of rural women.

The ACP-EU Energy Facility’s suport to innovation led to greater things


The EU Energy Facility funded project ”Catalysing modern energy service delivery to marginal communities in Southern Africa” started in 2008 with the aim to improve access to modern energy services and renewable technologies in rural areas of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. In Malawi, this was the first step to exploiting the large energy potential that is available from the water sources on Mount Mulanje.

The specific project in Malawi took place in the Mulanje district, an area in the southern part of Malawi known for its fertile soil and beautiful mountains. The topography of Mulanje, highly suitable for hydropower due to its many streams and rivers, inspired Practical Action to develop a model for a community-managed hydropower scheme for the community of Bondo. Based on the pilot phase that was supported by the ACP-EU Energy Facility, Practical Action and the local community of Bondo realized that the sustainability of the scheme was at risk due to the lack of technical and professional capacity in the local community and to the low demand profile of households included in the first phase.

To overcome this, the project was expanded in scope to provide access to more households performing a variety of social and economic activities. Today, the Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA) is non-profit social enterprise with the goal of being financially sustainable while offering affordable energy to rural costumers as widely as possible. MEGA sold the first units of electricity in January 2016 and have supported business customers in making use of the electricity and accessing finance. Close coordination between with the purpose-organised Village Electricity Committee and tribal chiefs helps guide and prioritise investments, and promotes a sense of ownership in the community. In its current phase, the project will bring clean, renewable energy to:

  • 1 health centre serving a population of over 22,000 people
  • 4 schools serving at least 1,500 students as well as enabling evening classes for adult learning
  • 3,000 people in 600 households with direct connections to the mini-grids
  • business and private initiatives (currently 32 customers with various income generating activities)

The MEGA that is now in place has been successful due to the lessons learned from the initial innovative phase supported by the ACP-EU Energy Facility. The approach adopted was to bring renewable energy to the local people and to empower through skills development to manage the provision of energy to their communities. MEGA now has the capacity to forecast needs and plan for them, manage the finances of the scheme, oversee operations and maintenance, and monitor consumption.

Thanks to the initial support to this innovative project provided by the ACP-EU Energy Facility and the continued commitment of The Scottish Government, the Global Environment Facility, DfID Practical Action at not least the local communities, approximately 20,000 people are benefiting from access to renewable energy in the Mulanje region.  For more information about MEGA, please visit

Interactive map of Energy Facility projects

View map in full-screen

The ACP-EU Energy Facility Monitoring team is pleased to present an interactive map that shows the geographical locations of the projects funded under the ACP-EU Energy Facility. By clicking on a specific location, you will find more detailed information about the project, including the project title, objectives and location. By clicking on the links, you will be redirected to the Energy Facility Project Database, which provides a detailed overview of each project.

The importance of local community involvement

The-importance-of-local-community-involvementThe objective of this recently completed project, FED/2011/231-578 ”Community Based Green Energy Project”, was to increase access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy services for 301,996 households, 88 social institutions and 64 rural community groups in rural and peri-urban areas of Kenya. By installing solar PV units and increasing awareness of the importance of energy system management and sustainable environmental protection, local communities not only have the opportunity to generate an income but the accessibility of education, health and other services dependent on energy have improved.

The implementer, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), worked in partnership with three local Catholic dioceses and one private technical partner. The involvement of local implementing partners ensures project sustainability through their local knowledge. The project is owned by local communities including school and health committee members. This means that students, staff and local communities are responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the systems. Most management committees have raised funds from their own communities to cover repairs as they arise.

The ”Community Based Green Energy Project” has proven the importance of collaborating with well-established and recognised local implementing partners. In this case, the dioceses of Kitui and Isiolo have more than a decade of experience of supporting rural community development initiatives in their districts. Through their work, they have established strong relationships with the rural and peri-urban communities and local authorities. The private local partner, Solar Works East Africa Ltd, is one of the leading solar companies in Africa, and has been directly engaged in the design and installation of renewable energy systems in rural areas for individuals and institutions, including schools, health centres and churches.

Throughout the project implementation, CAFOD staff has provided regular technical support to partners through site visits, as well as online support. The local County Government provides first-line support or, in the case that the problem cannot be resolved locally, they contact Solar Works East Africa for further technical assistance.

The partners are continuing to provide support to the target communities long after project completion due to their presence in the region. There was a total of 386,520 beneficiaries of the project as of the 1st of May 2015, exceeding the original target.

Solar power to the remote areas of Mauritania


The IPES RURAL project ended on 30th September 2015. Its main objective was to improve access to energy in remote areas of Mauritania. The project has enabled access to electricity through power plants connected to a mini-grid or stand-alone solar home systems, where each house has its own small solar energy installation. As a result, 56,000 people now benefit from improved access to electricity from solar PV. Most have gained access through the systems installed in schools, providing electricity for lighting, or because their shops now have electricity for fridges and other appliances. But there are also many direct beneficiaries, since 3,800 homes now have access to electricity that is mainly used for lighting, charging mobile phones and other small appliances.

Implementing body: ADER (Agence de Développement d’électrification Rurale) and IED – Innovation Energie Développement

Donor: EU and the Government of Mauritania

For more information on the Energy Facility projects, please visit the ACP-EU Energy Facility Database.

Eco Makala Allows for Reforestation in Congo


The project « Eco Makala: viabilisation durable de l’approvisionnement en bois-énergie des populations ruralesriveraines de la ville de Goma » took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The World Wide Fund for Nature carried out this project, which aimed at reducing the poverty and increasing the sustainable development of the North Kivu province in Congo. The “makala”, charcoal and firewood, constitute 97% of energy consumption in the province of North Kivu, and are the main fuels of urban households.

The project is directed at small land holders, field workers and the local population. Specifically, the project seeks to contribute to the sustainable provision of energy wood to the rural populations in the surroundings of Goma.

By the end of the project, the following results had been achieved: Forestry techniques were disseminated and the project has enabled the planting of 3,387 ha, (substantially more than originally intended); 49 different non-profit organisations were involved and 2,992 farmers in total; 39 local associations have set up nurseries and plantations; 419 participants were trained in optimised coal making techniques; local employment was created for 3,000 people; and new or additional sources of income have increased the purchasing power of locals.

Watch two videos from the project here (5 minutes) and here (25 minutes).

For more information on the project, please visit the ACP-EU Energy Facility Database.

195-980 Congo - Goma

195-980 Congo nursery

195-980 Goma Beni June 2010

195-980 Reforestation

Energy for Life and Development in Haiti

“ProgettoMondo Mlal : – Déployer de nouvelles opportunités de développement socio-économique par l’accès aux énergies durables dans le Plateau Central » takes place in the town of Hinche, in Haiti. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with more than 80 % of Haitians living in extreme poverty in rural areas. Haiti’s energy structure is problematic due to forest destruction and environmental degradation, limiting the population’s access to affordable modern energy sources.

The project aims to increase access to energy through satisfying basic human needs of the poorest population (Energy for Life), and by launching the economic development process from activities related to agriculture (Energy for Development).  The entire population of Hinche (75,000 people) will benefit from the dissemination of technical solutions and services developed by the project.

The project has established 3 nurseries with production of seedlings. 9942 trees were planted and 24,036 seedlings have been distributed to 1,054 beneficiaries. The construction of a modular wood stove prototype has begun to suit the needs of beneficiaries. 10 community centers have been built and electrified, 2 health centers/clinics are now electrified and equipped with refrigerators, 5 schools have been identified for their electrification, 3 kiosks were completed for water purification, a farmer training center has been electrified with 40 solar panels, and technical and administrative training sessions have been carried out.

Watch the video from the project here.

For more information on the project, please visit the ACP-EU Energy Facility Database.

270-635 NE Haiti 3

270-635 NE Haiti 20

270-635 NE Haiti 7

270-635 NE Haiti 9

The Jatropha Plant – a Potential for Production and use of Biofuel

This project “Développement de référentiels techniques et économiques pourles filières d’accès à l’énergie àpartir de Jatropha en Afrique de l’Ouest’’ aims to ensure the socio-economic environmental and financial sustainability of Jatropha biofuel production chains in rural areas in Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali and Senegal. With support from funds, two pilot projects seek to improve the production of renewable energy, and access to productive and domestic energy in rural areas in the biofuel sector, based on Jatropha.

The objective is to confirm whether the use of Jatropha plants for biofuel is a good solution or not. Another purpose is to consolidate the technical, socioeconomic and methodological frameworks across these countries through the construction of a network. Here, family farmers in the agro fuel sector can exchange experiences and capitalize on them. The last objective is to improve the regulatory framework for access to energy policies in favour of biofuel chains, and the development of rural districts in West Africa.

After three years of data collection, data analysis, and the establishment of standards, the Jatropha Network produced a film to present two Jatropha production initiatives in Mali. It shows the main achievements of these sectors and the challenges they face. Watch it here.

A final workshop, to exchange experiences between participants, was held in Bamako on June 23 and 24, 2015. The workshop was organised in collaboration with ADECIA.

For two more films click here and here.

For more information on the project, please visit the ACP-EU Energy Facility Database.

262-519 Meunier utilisant une machine fonctionnant lhuile de Jatropha en substitution au gasoil
A miller using a machine operating on Jatropha oil as a substitute for diesel.

262-519 Meuniers utilisant une machine fonctionnant lhuile de Jatropha pour moudre du karit Nampena Mali
Millers using a machine powered by Jatropha oil for grinding shea in Nampena Mali.

262-519 La dlgation saluant le corps constitu notables de la commune de Yorosso
The Delegation is saying hello to the row of highly recognised people from the municipality of Yorosso.