Ethiopian delegation impressed by Rwanda's biogas model


SNV renewable energy officials this week had a chance to showcase the biogas programme and stamp their role in the biogas decentralisation process. SNV, in conjunction with REG and MININFRA hosted a delegation from Ethiopia comprising key officials and staff from the national and regional energy agencies, who have travelled to Rwanda to interact with key government and other officials from the two countries, around aspects of private sector development and public private partnerships in biogas.

The team was led by Wondimu Tekle, State Minister, Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE) and Saroj Rai, the Energy sector Leader for SNV Ethiopia.

“We are happy to be here, to learn from Rwanda and take back some of these lessons and implement them back home”, Minister Wondimu said.

The objectives of the learning visit were to learn from the hosting countries (Rwanda and Kenya); what it takes to effectively develop a vibrant private sector for biogas promotion, the specific roles the government should play in promotion of biogas through development and involvement of private sector, the best practices in the PPP model of biogas promotion, what pitfalls can be anticipated, how PPPs help in promoting biogas in an integrated manner with other RE solutions like solar PV and how the current biogas and other alternative energy programmes could be better structured for improved coordination and effectiveness.The delegation visited Bugesera District where they saw a community biogas plant in use at Rweru model village.

Learning by doing: SNV Ethiopia's Saroj checks out a canvas digester in Bugesera

They also paid a courtesy call on the Rwanda Energy Private Developers, a body that brings together all the private actors in the energy sector and learnt what it takes to create and sustain a vibrant energy private sector.

They also had a chance to visit Musanze where the Northern Province Governor Jean Claude Musabyimana welcomed them and presented the district biogas program before sending them to a similar village (Ruhasa) that is home to 50 families, benefitting from community biogas plants installed with the support of REMA and Musanze District and complemented by the One Cow per family programme.

“We are impressed to see the decentralisation model working and more so institutionally. We work at the regional level and would like to shift things to the district level”, he remarked after the presentation of the decentralisation model at the Musanze Mayor’s office.

In what they termed a ‘rich’ visit, the Ethiopians were able to meet and interact with OYE biogas entrepreneurs in Musanze, as well as visit a household that has had a biogas digester installed by the 26-strong youth biogas cooperative in the district.

“Seeing how these young people are relying on biogas for their livelihoods encourages us to replicate the youth empowerment model bak home, hopefully we can begin to see similar results soon”, the Minister said after hearing the testimonies of two OYE entrepreneurs, the founders of ECOZIN and Style Construction Company.

Minister Wondimu exchanges knowledge with biogas entrepreneurs in Musanze

Rwanda has a vibrant biogas private sector decentralised under REG with a Government subsidy. Since the NDBP was decentralised to district level in 2015, REG and implementing partner SNV have registered a good uptake of biogas. Biogas has been incorporated into District performance contracts and SNV is committed to train 2 young technicians per sector to construct digesters under the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) Project, hence empowering local Rwandans to take ownership of their development. In the OYE framework, the biogas technicians are organised into district biogas cooperatives or private biogas companies.