BUJUMBURA May 25th (ABP) – The coordination unit of the “Soleil-Nyakiriza” project, a solar energy project in local communities of Burundi, organized, on Tuesday May 23, 2023, a training session for journalists, on the activities of the project. The project aims to expand access to energy services for households, businesses, schools and health centers in rural areas of Burundi.
For Mr. Sylvestre Nshimirimana, the monitoring and evaluation officer who represented the project coordinator during that session, the Soleil-Nyakiriza project is not new. It dates from 2020, and is in progress. Currently, it is at the finishing stage of the studies, while noting that the constructions will start soon.
According to him, the Soleil-Nyakiriza project is focused on three technical components. Indeed, he explained, the first component was designed to address issues related to capital development at the level of health centers and schools. At the health center level, it provides them with lighting and allow equipment to operate. Similarly at the school level, it provides them with lighting to allow students to study in the evening, educators to use other tools including computers but also to improve cooking based on solar energy for schools in school canteens.
Mr. Nshimirimana clarified that the project is advanced for the electrification of health centers. The first phase has been launched around 160 health centers which will be lit in two months, he said. With regard to schools, he pointed out that the construction of improved cookstoves and kitchen shelters is at a more advanced stage. In that regard, some 122 schools have already benefited from it, he said.
The second phase consists in the electrification of the village centers, the secondary schools grouped around the centers and far from the REGIDESO networks. In that regard, Mr. Nshimirimana informed that this component is the most important at 37% of the project. It was necessary to initiate mini-grids to enlighten these households and help them develop related activities, he explained. In terms of achievements, he said that the studies are advanced, the closing of the preliminary environmental and social impact studies will correspond to the launch of calls for applications in early June.
As for the 3rd component, it takes care of households outside these circuits, in other words, those who are not on the centers. The project has designed, according to Mr. Nshimirimana, portable solar panels that can be used independently. Thus, the private sector has been called upon. He indicated that this project will subsidize the private partners who will invest in it and households “at a subsidized price”. The beneficiaries will be distant households not eligible by REGIDESO but also outside those centers.
According to a diagnosis made three months ago, the project is not known, even the expectations are not known, said Mr. Nshimirimana. To solve this problem, the project wants to involve journalists, and expects them to contribute to accelerating the ownership of that project.
For him, the purpose of that session is to make journalists aware of that project so that they can then inform other stakeholders about the opportunities that await them. What the project expects to do for them, is to sharpen the expectation of the people for the use of viable energy solutions.