Access to electricity is essential for development. It means schools, hospitals and businesses can provide 21st century services and it drives economic growth. And supplying electricity means having enough power generation which is why the Government of Rwanda has made it a priority.
One way the government is working towards its priorities is through the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI) which pairs Rwandan public servants with international experts to deliver services and build long term capacity at the same time. AGI supports the SCBI.
One success of the SCBI has been an agreement to build East Africa’s first large scale solar power plant at Rwamagana, just one hour outside of Kigali. SCBI Rwandan young professionals, eager to learn and to deliver results, worked with international experts to bring best practice in commercial and legal negotiations. The negotiations - regarding the power purchase agreement (the commitment of the utility to purchase the electricity production over the long term) took 7 months: lightning-fast by international standards.
Once the project was financed, constructed and commissioned in September 2014, it achieved many important results for Rwanda. It:
increased generating capacity by 8.5 MW; about 6% of the total power connected to the grid at the time the project was commissioned– enough to supply 12,000 homes with electricity;
replaced expensive diesel generation with cheaper and cleaner electricity;
helped to showcase Rwanda as a place where energy projects with private investors become a reality, setting a strong and positive precedent.
The team issued competitive tenders for an additional 250 MW generation capacity. This means that SCBI has established a practice of transparent public tendering for energy projects, which will deliver significant improvements in value for money over the long term. Less than two years after negotiations, one member of the team was promoted to Commercial Director of the newly established utility; an incredible career progression that recognises the value to government of the skills built by the SCBI.
The SCBI, which has contributed in the delivery of the Rwamagana project, is an example of how AGl works in partnership with the government to create long term and lasting results by addressing the things that stop governments getting things done.
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.