Bright New Ideas is involved in Rwanda through our partnership organization, the Solar Oven Society. Rwanda is an impoverished nation in East Africa next to Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. Rwanda has a land mass about the same size as Massachusetts, with a population about the same as Ohio, making it Africa’s most densely populated country. Rwanda is known most widely for a horrible genocidal war which happened in the mid-1990’s but is not commonly recognized for the progress, peace and development the country has achieved since then. Rwanda is often held up as a model developing nation for the strides it has taken, despite its challenges and the fact that it is a landlocked nation. A mere 6% of the entire population has access to electricity, and Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure has the goal of brining electricity to 12% of its population by 2012. We strive to work with Rwanda’s people to bring solar lighting and capacity-building technology to this emerging and ambitious nation. Our current primary focus is building partnerships with local organizations through the Solar Oven Society to evaluate use and feasibility of various models of solar lanterns.
Rwanda Economy Snapshot
According to the CIA World Factbook:
Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 85% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture and some mineral and agro-processing. In 2008, minerals overtook coffee and tea as Rwanda’s primary foreign exchange earner. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda’s fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and temporarily stalled the country’s ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed. Nonetheless, a majority still live below the poverty line of 250 Rwandan francs per day (about US$0.43). Despite Rwanda’s fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with demand, requiring food imports. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and obtained IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in 2005-06. Rwanda also received a Millennium Challenge Account Compact in 2008. Africa’s most densely populated country is trying to overcome the limitations of its small, landlocked economy by leveraging regional trade. Rwanda joined the East African Community and is aligning its budget, trade, and immigration policies with its regional partners. The government has embraced an expansionary fiscal policy to reduce poverty by improving education, infrastructure, and foreign and domestic investment and pursuing market-oriented reforms, although energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap growth. The global downturn hurt export demand and tourism while poor rains this year have lowered growth in agriculture.
|Land Mass (Sq Miles)||10,169|
|People per Sq Mile||931|
|Life Expectancy||49 years|
|Under Age 5 Morality Rate||16%|
|Access to safe water||74%|
|Average Annual Income (USD)||$250|
|% Below Poverty Level||38%|
|% Access to Electricity||6%|
|Rural Population %||87%|
|Rural Per Capita Energy kWh||~0|
|Primary Education Enrollment||72%|
|CO2 Emissions Per Capita||0.07 metric tons|