By Irene Gaitirira
Published July 21, 2017
Solar-powered ‘light islands’ have begun appearing in the heavily-trafficked central bus station and nearby marketplace, extending commercial hours and personal safety in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.
“The city of Bujumbura is very pleased to be working with Gigawatt Global on this important solar street lighting project,” says Bujumbura Mayor, Freddy Mbonimpa. “This project will enhance security as well as provide opportunities for economic development to the citizens of Bujumbura. It is the hope and wish of all involved that this project can spread throughout the city, as well as expand to other cities in Burundi within the near future.”
Gigawatt Global, a founding member of United States of America Aid for International Development (USAid)’s Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid programme through whose partnership with Bujumbura the city is getting a little broghter, says it is considering scaling up its solar-powered ‘light islands’ initiative throughout Bujumbura and in other major towns in the central African country.
“We are grateful and pleased to work with the city of Bujumbura, and the Honorable Mayor Freddy Mbonimpa to realise this important first step of the solar street lighting project,” says Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi. “We intend to expand throughout the capital and to other locations as part of our larger programme of green electrification in Burundi, with 40 ‘light islands’ planned in the first phase of the programme. Every country in which we develop commercial scale solar fields will receive additional benefits like these ‘light islands’ and rural electrification with mini-grids.”
Gigawatt Global, a renewable energy company which is said to provide 100% financing for its projects, pioneered commercial scale solar power plants in sub-Saharan Africa, launching the first one in neighbouring Rwanda in 2014. It is reported to be supplying 6% of the country’s generation capacity.
Gigawatt Global says it will complete a 7.5 Mw solar field in the Gitega region of Burundi in the next six months, which will supply 15% of the East African country’s generation capacity. Similar projects are currently being developed in 10 African countries.
“Over 95% of Burundi’s 11 million people lack access to electricity. Gigawatt Global is honoured to play a role in advancing economic and social development through green power in the country,” says Josef Abramowitz, CEO of Gigawatt Global. “By expanding our investments from commercial scale projects to include off-grid installations, we are positively impacting the lives of millions of people in Burundi and throughout Africa, and are becoming a leading force in green energy projects across the continent.”
As part of Gigawatt Global’s commitment to additional Corporate Social Responsibility, one of its investors, Mark Gelfand, funded and built the STEM Centre (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the Université Polytechnique de Gitega.
While Gigawatt Global is a multinational renewable energy company bringing new sources of green power and social development to Africa, USAID Power Africa Initiative says its goal is to ‘enable electricity access by adding 60 million new electricity connections and 30000 MW of new and cleaner power generation.’