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Tony Blair in visit at 8.5MW Solar Power Plant – Rwamagana District

Rwamagana, 12th February 2015: Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed optimism that Rwanda will achieve its ambitious energy targets, mainly because of its transparent, focused and determined government.

Blair, who is the country for an official visit, made the remarks today after visiting the 8.5 megawatt solar plant, located at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwamagana District, the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in the region.

With the solar plant added on the national grid, Rwanda now generates 156 megawatts of electricity. With several projects, the target is to have 563 megawatts by 2017/18 and to increase connectivity to electricity from the current 22% of the households to 70%.

“It’s a very ambitious goal but it’s possible. Acceleration of the time table is always about the government having the right focus, discipline and determination, the good thing about this government is that it’s absolutely focused on doing this,” Blair said.

The US $23.7 million cutting-edge utility-scale plant, the first of its kind in the region and the third in Africa after the ones in South Africa and Mauritius, provides electricity for over 15,000 Rwandan households.

The plant is one of the first major projects to benefit from the work of the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative, a pioneering partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Africa Governance Initiative (Agi), for which Blair is patron.

Blair said Agi provides capacity for government in negotiating investment deals, including the one that saw a consortium of investors that set up the solar power plant.

“It’s a great vote of confidence for the country and its future; it’s groundbreaking for how you do this type of solar projects. It’s of a size which is unusual as well and it will increase the capacity of electricity by around 6 per cent. At different levels this is an important and symbolic project,” Blair said.

The solar power plant that Blair visited is situated on land owned by Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, an institution for vulnerable children orphaned before and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Village is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses.

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