The Anglican Church of Rwanda, dioceses of Butare, Cyangugu, Kigeme and Shyogwe via the Rural Development Inter-diocesan Service(RDIS) in collaboration with Eglise Presbyterienne au Rwanda (EPR) have recently started to jointly implement a pilot phase for a project for supplying ‘Solar Home Systems’ in Off-grid areas in their repsective Churches.

SunKing Home 120 with 4Lamps and 1Radio mobilePhone

The two UEM member Churches are thus implementing an environmental protection project by investing in renewable energy sources (Solar Home Systems) in cooperation with ONE-FOR-THE-CLIMATE, whereby the invested capital will have to paid back.

Project description:

In Africa around 500 million people do not have access to energy. They are not connected to the electricity grid. They often use kerosene for firewood lighting and cooking. Around 1 million people in Africa die by indoor pollution every year - mainly women and children.

In Rwanda itself 40.5 % of the population have access to energy as shown by the Energy Group Report of August 2017. On-grid access representing 29.5% and off-grid access representing 11%. Most of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower; solar power produces over 7% of electricity in the country.

This lack of electricity contributes greatly in the development of the country in general and households in particular. The populations who live far from the existing grid lines are often confronted with major problems like:

  • The lack of accessibility for using communication tools such as computers and mobile phones.
  • The children with school age are affected by lack of electricity to do the home work and revision of what they learned at school.
  • Many households in the rural area, still using firewood for the lighting of their houses and this contribute to the destruction of the environment.
  • Many other people use oil lamps (kerosene) which also have health consequences (pulmonary and respiratory diseases).
  • Those remote areas also face a challenge of not having some services near them that require electricity.

The Rwandan government has demonstrated its willingness to supply electricity to a large part of population, but its efforts require the support from other stakeholders in this area. Churches can play a crucial role because of their wide spread network and communities.

In 2017 UEM-Churches and One-for-the-Climate realized the „UEM Feasibility Study on Options of Using and Financing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Church Buildings in Tanzania and Rwanda” and held two conferences.
Moreover, this feasibility study showed that it is possible for the UEM member Churches to implement environmental protection projects by investing in renewable energy sources (such as Solar Home Systems) in cooperation with One-for-the-Climate, whereby the invested capital has to be repaid back.

This project proposal is in response to the conclusion by UEM member Churches in Tanzania, DR-Congo and Rwanda in a follow-up workshop by UEM and One-for-the-Climate that was held in Dar- Es- Salaam in September 2017, that the selected Churches should start with ‘pilot projects’ as soon as possible.

Our project for supplying ‘Solar-Home-Systems’ in Off-grid areas fits well in the new model, of investing in renewable energy sources, because it will improve the living condition of poorer people, it will serve the environment, it will be repaid back through the available savings and credit cooperatives and it allows joint funding by civil societies in the North and South as the beneficiaries are willing and ready to pay 30% of the investment in advance.


Solar home systems (SHS) are stand-alone photovoltaic systems that offer a cost-effective mode of supplying amenity power for lighting and appliances to remote off-grid households. In rural areas that are not connected to the grid SHS can be used to meet a household's energy demand fulfilling basic electric needs. Globally SHS provide power to hundreds of thousands of households in re- mote locations where electrification by the grid is not feasible. SHS usually operate at a rated voltage of 12 V direct current (DC) and provide power for low power DC appliances such as lights, radios and small TVs for about three to five hours a day. Furthermore they use appliances such as cables, switches, mounts, and structural parts and power conditioners / inverters, which change 12/ 24 V power to 240VAC power for larger appliances. SHS are best used with efficient appliances so as to limit the size of the array.

Based on these findings, joint projects were proposed between UEM, EAR, EPR and One-for-the-Climate. In the four dioceses of EAR and EPR around 15,000 households should be supplied with SHS between 2018 and 2021. The costs for each single SHS are estimated at around € 150 per system (€ 120 costs for the system plus € 30 transaction costs). The SHS should provide both solar light, handy charging and use of radio. Financing should be realized by a system of loan and pay back. The users should bring in a small portion of pre-financing or “equity” (e.g. € 30). The loan of € 120 per unit should be brought in by financial partners of One-for-the-Climate in Germany. By using SHS, families will save costs for kerosene. By this, they will be able to pay back the loan within three years. Hence, in a midterm view the entire economical system would be self-sustaining.

The project is intended to be implemented in four phases:

The first phase as pilot phase in 2018 should consist of a preparation phase in the first half of 2018 and an implementation phase in the second half of 2018. During the preparation phase several issues have to be clarified: technical systems, business concept, and target group, target regions, concept of maintenance, organizational structure, financing, capacity building, etc.
In the implementation phase 1; 100 households per implementing church – in sum 200 – should be provided with SHS.

General objectives (and long term impacts):

  1. To develop a viable business model for self-sustaining and sustainable implementation of “Solar-Home-Systems” not by grants but by investment through loans and pay back.
  2. To test the concept in a pilot phase for get knowledge about problems and to get first experience how to handle hurdles.
  3. To get experience for a scaling-up phase.
  4. To promote environmental protection by introducing use of renewable energy technology in remote areas to reduce consumption of fossil fuels as well as to reduce accompanied eye and respiratory diseases.
  5. To improve the livelihood of poorer people in remote off-grid areas by giving them the possibility of working at night or to be productive even at night and by giving them access to information and communication (radio, TV, mobile phone charging).
  6. To give an example for international climate partnerships between African and German citizens.

If solar energy substitutes or reduces the use of kerosene and firewood this would have several long term impacts both on single families as on the entire communities:

  1. Less people will die caused by indoor pollution. Families and communities will not be destabilized by death.
  2. Less people will get ill caused by indoor pollution. The costs for health care for families and communities will decrease.
  3. Children are able to do homework for school during late hours. The level of education can increase.
  4. For installation and maintenance jobs will be generated. This strengthens the families who get the jobs and the community.
  5. The use of solar energy in a midterm and long term view is cheaper than the use of kerosene. Families will save more money and are able to spend this on other issues. This will strengthen the economic situation of the communities.
  6. Solar energy reduces the use of firewood for lighting. This reduces the deforestation and is one step to prevent agriculture from problems by flooding.

 The partners EAR, EPR, One-for-the-Climate, Dieter Seifried and UEM have different roles in the implementation of this project.


See also:


The project is sponsored by:

The United Evangelical Mission (UEM)
- Communion of Churches in three Continents -
Rudolfstrasse 137
D-42285 Wuppertal

Cooperation Partners are:

  • Büro Ö-quadrat (Ö2)
  • One-for-the-Climate (OFTC)

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Vision Statement
A Holy Soul in a Healthy Body.
Mission Statement
To safeguard environment, increase the production aiming at sustainable and holistic development.
Objectives Statement
To promote sustainable development by mobilizing the community members to lift themselves out of poverty.