New Way to Pay for Climate-Friendly Fridges and ACs in Rwanda

The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has announced a partnership with Banque Populaire du Rwanda to offer on-bill financing to make energy-efficient and climate-friendly refrigerators and ACs more affordable.

Countries in the East African Community are experiencing significant economic and population growth, which is driving ever-greater demand for domestic refrigerators and room air conditioners. Cooling products are essential for the health, well-being, and competitiveness of these economies, but they pose critical challenges in terms of energy consumption and impacts on the environment. Outdated products can consume two to three times the amount of energy as efficient options available today, and they often contain refrigerant gasses that are destroying the ozone layer and harmful to human health and to the life of the planet.

Rwanda’s National Cooling Strategy identifies innovative financing as one of its main paths toward more sustainable cooling.

REMA’s Rwanda Cooling Finance Initiative (R-COOL FI) supports the development of the on-bill financial mechanism for customers of Rwanda Energy Group’s Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) to repay a loan for energy efficient cooling products via their electricity bill. The loans shall be paid through a mechanism agreed upon among the partners, who are the banks, EUCL and suppliers. Proper collection and recycling of used appliances, product testing, and consumer awareness campaigns will help to ensure compliance and promote this opportunity.

Consumers will be able to select a qualifying refrigerator or air conditioner through a participating vendor. The project team proudly announces Banque Populaire du Rwanda as financial partner to underpin the loans in this scheme.

“Banque Populaire du Rwanda is taking important leadership in demonstrating the market viability of an innovative scheme that is good for consumers, the utility, and the planet. Such win-win actions by the private sector are critical to sustainable economic development,” says Juliet Kabera, Director General of REMA. The partnership between Rwanda Energy Group, Banque Populaire and other banks, and the technology suppliers, she says, will not only unlock individual savings but also provide an alternative equipment financing through the electricity utility bills.

‘‘Rwanda Energy Group (REG) supports this initiative which promotes energy efficiency and longer-term individual and national savings. Aggregated individual consumers’ savings will reduce need for investment into extra power generation, and optimize our existing supply capacity,’’ says Ron Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of REG.

R-COOL FI is implemented by REMA and supported by United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency initiative and Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) and aims to promote energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling and recycling of existing inefficient systems. The project aims to unlock USD 4 million in financing to support the purchase of 12,500 energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling products in Rwanda by 2024, which can be scaled-up thereafter to cover additional opportunities. R-COOL is made possible by funding from the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program and the Government of Rwanda.

Read more about the background of this groundbreaking work in Rwanda here: www.united4efficiency.org.