Rwanda Renewable Energy Fund Project: Engaging the Private Sector in Off-grid Solar Electrification
This case study examines the first four years of the planned six-year implementation of the Rwanda Renewable Energy Fund (REF) project — the country’s largest off-grid expansion program — with a focus on its delivery challenges and solutions.
The case study aims to provide lessons from the project on how teams have addressed delivery challenges in climate projects. The delivery challenges are the problems that hinder development interventions and prevent practitioners from translating technical solutions into results on the ground. The case study explores the major challenges during implementation, the solutions that the government put in place in response to challenges, how the solutions were arrived at, and key lessons.
The project’s design was motivated by the need to accelerate off-grid access to electricity in rural areas. The REF aims to promote private sector-led, off-grid renewable energy (RE) development, by providing lines of credit and creating an enabling environment for off-grid solar electrification. The project was implemented by the Government of Rwanda through the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), with management support from the World Bank and financing from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP).
The project set up a fund for financing private sector engagement in off-grid electrification. The core intervention at the heart of the project lies in the creation of lines of credit in local currency for financial institutions to finance solar home systems and mini-grids, and solar companies offering those solutions. Local financial institutions were expected to use these lines of credit to finance private solar companies to provide households with off-grid solutions.