In Rwanda, one of the most densely populated of the least-developed countries in Africa, 45 percent of the population lives in poverty and communities face acute electricity shortages. Here, every watt of electricity counts.
In 2009, only 6 percent of Rwanda’s population had access to electricity. The majority of households were either living without lights or using kerosene lamps or batteries.
In an effort to increase access to electricity and save energy, the Rwandan government put in place the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, which aims to expand electricity connections to 70 percent of the population by 2018. At the same time, the government realized it could address energy shortages and black-outs by making energy consumption more efficient.
By 2012, about 18 percent of Rwandan households were connected to the grid. People are changing their behavior by wasting less energy, paying less per kilowatt hour and saving energy on a national level, with more power now available to poor rural areas. Over 200,000 households, representing almost 1.5 million people, have received CFL light bulbs through a World Bank-supported project that has allowed them to earn carbon credits for the first time.
How did Rwanda do it?
Using CFLs to become more energy efficient
Under the Rwanda Electrogaz Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Distribution project, the Rwanda Energy Group – the national public electricity utility, formerly called Electrogaz – conducted an ambitious countrywide distribution of 800,000 high-quality compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), commonly known as “Energy Savers,” that are up to 75 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. The company bought the CFLs at bulk price, with half the cost financed through the World Bank electricity access scale-up project and the other half through an advance payment for future carbon credits purchased by the World Bank’s Community Development Carbon Fund (CDCF).
High-efficiency lighting can reduce electricity use, making it a crucial tool in offsetting price increases that come with extending power grid connections. The CFL distribution brought down costs for consumers and enabled more poor clients to afford access to electricity. It also led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, making the project eligible for carbon credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
“Our partnership with the World Bank has contributed to savings for our end users of 64 GWh per year, equivalent to approximately US$ 14.5 million as well as a reduction in the power demand by approximately 30MW,” said Jean Bosco Muginareza, CEO of the Rwanda Energy Group.
“The extension of the electrical grid to rural areas has decreased the use of biomass and kerosene lamps for lighting, lowering smoke pollution. It has also contributed to job creation such as carpentry, soldering, sewing, and the use of power-based mills to transform dry cassava and grains into flour. Some villages are becoming small commercial centers, open late into the night.”