By Lewis Dida
A partnership program between the City of Bujumbura led by Mayor Freddy Mbonimpa and Gigawatt Global which is a founding member of the United States Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid Program has introduced solar powered street lighting in Downtown Bujumbura.
This week, solar-powered ‘light islands’ began appearing in the heavily-trafficked central bus station and nearby marketplace, extending commercial hours and personal safety.
Speaking during the commissioning of the project, Mayor Mbonimpa noted that the 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.”He added.
Gigawatt Global is now in discussions to scale the solar-powered ‘light islands’ program throughout the city and in other major Burundian towns. “We are grateful and pleased to work with the city of Bujumbura to realise this important first step of the solar street lighting project,” said Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi.
“We intend to expand throughout the capital and to other locations as part of our larger program of green electrification in Burundi, with 40 ‘light islands’ planned in the first phase of the program,” he said.
“Every country in which we develop commercial scale solar fields will receive additional benefits like these ‘light islands’ and rural electrification with mini-grids.” He added.
Gigawatt Global, which provides 100% financing for its projects, pioneered commercial scale solar power plants in sub-Sahara Africa, launching the first one in Rwanda in 2014, which is currently supplying 6% of the country’s generation capacity. The company 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.
The pilot program is supported by the Energy & Environmental Partnership (EEP), an initiative of the governments of the United Kingdom, Austria and Finland, and with an impact investment from entrepreneur Alex Goldberg.