Rwanda Issues Consultancy Tender for Financing of Off-Grid Solar Projects

The Development Bank of Rwanda has issued an expression of interest (EoI) for consulting firms to provide technical and engineering services to the bank for appraisal of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies and loan applications for renewable energy mini-grid investment projects that are submitted to by developers seeking financing from the Renewable Energy Fund. The consultants also have to supervise the implementation of the mini-grid projects financed by the bank and provide related technical assistance for sector strengthening.

The Government of Rwanda has received $48.9 million in funding from the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) to implement the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) project.  The World Bank Board approved the project on June 20, 2017.

The objective of the REF project is to increase electricity access in rural areas through off-grid technologies and facilitate private sector participation in renewable off-grid electrification. Rwanda is taking initiatives to replace diesel, kerosene, dry cell batteries, and other alternative fuels with renewable energy through this program.

The last date to submit bids is December 30, 2021.

With this tender, the government aims to set up mini-grids ranging from 10 kW to 1 MW of peak demand, with most mini-grids under 100 kW of peak demand.

To participate in the competitive bidding process, bidders must have at least ten years of experience in design, engineering, and construction of off-grid solar photovoltaics (PV), micro-and mini-hydro, biomass power, hybrid projects, and low and medium voltage distribution networks.

They should also have expertise and experience in renewable energy resource modeling and forecasting, including solar and hydrogen, related system sizing, and optimizing. Their experience in financial analysis of renewable energy projects would be an advantage.

The bank aims to recruit one or more consulting firms for 24 months to help it undertake technical due diligence of loan applications.

Successful bidders need to undertake the technical appraisal of the project’s pre-feasibility, feasibility study, and business plan for mini-grid projects submitted by developers for the bank’s financing. They must also provide supervision and technical assistance services to implement mini-grid projects financed by the bank.

According to International Renewable Energy Agency, Rwanda’s total power capacity was 259 MW in 2020. Renewable energy accounted for 141 MW, including 110 MW of hydropower and 31 MW of solar power capacity.

The off-grid solar value chain can create up to 570,000 jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2022, excluding manufacturing, the UCL Engineering for International Development Centre has said in a recent report.

With off-grid solar, rural electrification could enhance business startups and new income generation activities in the region. Around 24% of consumers in East African countries use off-grid connections to boost their existing business or new income-generating activities.

Mercom had reported that NOTS Solar Lamps, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, announced a deal to speed up the process of providing power to families with the least incomes. NOTS was expected to invest $70 million (~$4.79 billion) in a manufacturing unit for solar home systems over a five-year duration.