If you have been following our social networks (Twitter | Facebook), you would have seen that the team left Kigali for Minazi last weekend to start manufacturing the Izuba.Boxes, the battery boxes for our standalone solution.
Minazi was our first kiosk and where it all began. In 2008, the founders of e.quinox chose Rwanda as their test bed for the idea they had from their group project. 5 years later, we are now a fairly established student project, with 5 kiosks and helping around 500 households. New committee members elected every year bring new ideas into the organisation, while following the aim of our original founders – to find the blueprint solution to rural electrification.
As our hydro kiosk in Rugaragara is where we shall implement our new battery boxes this year, Yuchen and I travelled down to the site yesterday, to do ground work before the big day and also do some more testing on our boxes.
In the past few days, I have been saying to the crew that I didn’t feel like I am in Africa. In the capital Kigali, it very much feels like a capital city, as if it were in the West. There are a few high rise buildings, shops everywhere, working traffic lights (although the green man does walk very awkwardly) and well, miles and miles of paved roads.
Hello all, welcome to our summer trip blog from Rwanda! 4 of us caught a very early flight from Heathrow on Monday and arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda in the evening. Most of us thought the 10-hour flight, with a connection at Brussels, was very good – apart from Yuchen who missed the croissant for breakfast and the ice cream for the snack, which apparently “were the most important meals of the day”.
Joining the other 4 team members already on the ground, we have so far made a good start to the battery box manufacture today. We spent most of the day at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) figuring out if our plan in London was the best way for the production.
Hilti is an international world leading company that provides power tool and fixtures equipment to the civil engineering industry. Last year e.quinox members got in touch with contacts at Hilti to help with the provision of specialist tools necessary to build our Rugaragara kiosk. Hilti kindly donated to e.quinox two specialist kits of drilling equipment which allowed for the successful implementation of the kiosk. This year Hilti has generously donated thousands of pounds of cordless tools including drilling and cutting tools that will allow us to carry out further civils work to improve the kiosk.
“Hilti donated some tools to e.quinox for the construction of the hydro kiosk last year and we were very impressed with the results.
I’m quite glad that even long-winded discussions can result in simple statements like this one. On the other hand, what is at stake is not the stomach’s happiness after a meal of either bruschettes or Pizza, but rather the fate of an entire village.
Cooperating with the UN-habitat to bring electricity to a Tanzanian refugee village this year has been probably one of the most challenging, but also rewarding experiences. When you enter the village just about an hour’s drive from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, you realise that this should not actually be called one. Merely a collection of 50 houses organised in three straight lines of 19, 19 again and then 12 houses, but without bar, kiosk or anything remotely business-like, the villagers still seem to be in the process of finding out what their actual role in the village is.
After a 4 and half hour, bumpy and cramped bus ride from Kigali, we’re finally there…. Banda!
The site where our colleagues from DHE implemented two pico-hydro sites.Population: 7000 – local partners: KAGENO – zero grid implementation plans till 2050.
We get off the bus, all excited to see a new typical Rwandan village… But wait… WHERE ARE ALL THE HOUSES?? We’re in the middle of a jungle! Exotic trees, huge worms, insane amounts of insects, weird bird noises all over, a bunch of monkeys crossing the road. We’re actually very close to the Nyungwe national reserve. But no sign of any human being…
To my surprise, they tell us the village is actually around one hour and 45min from the road!
No we are not talking about the browsing experience developed by a certain US company that can be dreadfully slow in Rwanda. Last weekend we experienced the ancient meaning behind safari. The word itself comes from the East African language Swahili and means, “to travel”. During the period of colonialism the word was adopted by Europeans to describe the act of travelling to watch wild animals. Rwanda is the perfect spot to do so with three national parks offering a wide variety of species in different climatic regions. The Volcano National Park in the North, known for its Gorillas, the jungle-like Nyungwe National Park in the South West, which neighbours Congo and Burundi, and the Akagera National Park savannah bordering Tanzania.
Amakuro, greetings from the land of a thousand hills! Our expedition team is enjoying the first week in Rwanda, and I have plenty of exciting news to keep you guys updated. The adventure began even before we arrived in Rwanda, with one team member forgetting to check that his passport was actually already expired (blame the Europeans for not requiring a passport when traveling within Europe, haha). When we landed at Addis Ababa for transit, the oxygen mask compartment a few rows ahead of us decided to fall from the plane ceiling, which made me all the more appreciative of physically getting to Rwanda in one piece.
Some people may ask why we should bring electricity to isolated villages. How will they use it? Do they even have electrical appliances? Well, we went to see how electricity has impacted the lives of the villagers in of Nyamyunba, close to Gisenyi in northern Rwanda and we found some unexpected results.
Electricity was used in most places we thought about. It greatly helped the local administration which now uses computers and internet saving hours of write machine and days of posted mails. It is also used at the local school allowing night classes as well as in the nearby health centre.
I decided to describe our site assessments in the next couple of posts as we’ve done some already and we’re going to do a couple in the next days. I’m really excited about them as we get to see rural Rwanda in different parts of the country. They are very interesting especially as some of the places are high in the mountains, on the fields or even in the jungle.
Afterwards we went to Ruhengeri, which is a relatively big city in the north of Rwanda and it’s really close to the volcano national park. Hence, we’ve seen some of the volcanoes.