Rwandan president Paul Kagame has called for increased solar energy adoption to combat the harmful effects of climate change in Africa. This call comes at a time where the African continent’s demand for energy is increasing to meet various development goals.

President Kagame made this call at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Conference in New Delhi, India. The ISA is a coalition of solar resource rich countries that seeks to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common approach.

Speaking at the ISA, President Kagame commented that “The sunniest countries on Earth should not lack energy. The fact that they do is an unacceptable irony. It is fitting that more than half of countries that have signed and ratified the International Solar Alliance treaty are African.”

Sue to solar energy being a clean energy source, it has become an effective solution to climate change. However, adoption and uptake has been relatively slow. President Kagame argues for a speedier adoption and uptake, which also has to be affordable and reliable.

“Solar power is part of the answer to climate change.” President Kagame states. “But to speed adoption and get the environmental benefits, solar energy has to be at least as reliable and affordable as other energy sources. We are not just protecting the environment; we are protecting people and their well-being.” To support this, he argues that there needs to be more advances in solar technology. “Advances in solar energy production must be matched by the development of batteries capable of storing it and smart grids to distribute it to customers,” he added.

The increased uptake of solar energy is important in meeting the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the African Union Agenda 2063 targets.

There are many solar power initiatives in Rwanda, including an 8.5MW plant in Rwamagana district, which has “already helped to stabilise daytime power supply in Eastern Province”, and mini-solar energy installations in rural areas.

President Kagame suggests that public-private partnerships will be essential to raise funds required for solar investments in coming years.

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