Domestic Energy Policy in Rwanda

The need to manage Rwanda’s biomass and fuelwood production and consumption adequately has led to the formulation of policies and strategies, and the establishment of specifically mandated government agencies. Rwanda’s Energy Policy is based on three major documents: the National Energy Policy, the National Energy Strategy for 2008-12, and the Biomass Energy Strategy (BEST) from 2008 (Bedi, Pellegrini, and Tasciotti 2013). One major reason for policy action on energy in Rwanda has been identified as ‘economic growth, which in turn is seen as a prerequisite for tackling poverty’ (World Bank 2012:21). The National Energy Policy was drafted in 2008 as an update of the 2004 Energy Policy statement. With particular concern to this study, the policy among others, aims to ‘set the National Energy Policy within Rwanda’s long-term development plans and strategies’ and to focus on household energy requirement in addition to gender issues arising from such (EUEI 2009b: 1).

The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MINIRENA), developed the Biomass Energy Strategy (BEST) in 2008-9. The BEST was designed to address four key areas:

  • (1) To sustainably increase fuelwood supply including the establishment of new, and management of existing plantations, and the ‘professionalization of the charcoal value-chain’ (EUEI 2009a).
  • (2) Improvement of energy use efficiency in Rwanda’s households through the extension of all necessary support to manufacturers and importers to produce innovative materials that conserve biomass.
  • (3) The promotion of alternatives to fuelwood, with particular emphasis on peat, papyrus, and biogas.
  • (4) Development of institutional capacity within government agencies to be in charge of biomass and energy within the short and medium terms (EUEI 2009a).

Rwanda’s National Domestic Biogas Program (NDBP) was established in 2007 and was supported by development partners in Rwanda, specifically Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), and the German Aid Organization known as GIZ. The objective of the project is to improve the provision of biogas to meet the cooking and lighting needs of households that own a minimum of two cows. Rwanda’s NDBP aims to install at least 15,000 biogas digesters in rural households, in addition to institutional digesters to be installed in prisons and schools (SNV 2012). Since inception, NDBP has installed domestic biogas in 4,600 households. NDBP is also involved in training of masons, and the project has trained 555 masons in household biogas constructions and maintenance, out of which 195 have registered businesses; 52 masons have been trained in the mechanics of institutional digesters construction and maintenance (REG 2014).

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