Burundi faces one of the most dire cases of energy poverty worldwide. Only 3% of its population has access to the electricity grid. This energy poverty affects all aspects of life in Burundi. Schools and health centres are not electrified; children are unable to study after sunset as it is too dark at home; women giving birth at night do so by candlelight; and women and children have to go outside into the dark if they need to go to the toilet at night.
These devastating immediate consequences point to energy poverty as perhaps the single most important barrier to delivering sustainable results for children and women in Burundi. The need to provide safe, clean and low-cost energy solutions that have the potential to benefit all children, especially the most vulnerable, is urgent.
The Burundi Activate Talk explored the opportunities that new energies provide, and highlighted solutions to overcome the critical bottleneck of energy poverty in Burundi to deliver results for children. The event was held on June 19th 2014. The featured speakers are:
- Spès Nihangaza is the co-founder and Legal Representative of FVS-AMADE Burundi which has been working in favor of the welfare of the child since 1992. She works for the protection of children’s rights and economic empowerment of vulnerable households.
- Eduardo Appleyard works as a consultant in the field of energy access and has participated widely in the renewable energy sector since 2008. He has worked in the tide, wind and solar photovoltaic industries.
- Marie Ntakirutimana is a community leader involved in the care of orphans and other vulnerable children. She works with FVS-AMADE Burundi in the supervision of solidarity groups and dissemination of Nuru lights in her community of Ruziba (rural Kanyosha).
- Rhys Marsh grew up in Vermont in the United States with both a sense of adventure and a passion for sustainability and the natural world. In recent years, Rhys has financed energy projects in the United States as Vice-President of a major lending institution, with particular emphasis on wind and solar energy.
- Peres Niyonsaba is an engineer in mini hydroelectric dams that trained in this area in Kenya. He distinguished himself by building small hydropower plants for the population in several communes of Burundi and at low cost. He is always busy working on his sites.
- Allan Stockman Rugano is an independent programmer passionate about open source technologies who studied mathematics at the University of Burundi. He is currently a “junior programmer” in the Innovations Lab of UNICEF Burundi and likes to tinker around.
15:30 – 16 :00: Welcome and introduction of “Litre of Light” video by Spès Nihangaza – FVS/AMADE
16:00 – 16:15: “Accessing energy in Africa : seeing big, starting small” by Eduardo Appleyard
16:15 – 16:30: “Life without electricity” by Marie Ntakirutimana
16:30 – 16:45: “Community-led microenergy solutions” by Rhys Marsh
16 : 45 – 17:00: “Hydroelectric solutions in Burundi” by Perès Niyonsaba
17:00 – 17:15: “Access to energy in Burundi : creation of opportunities for young people” by Allan Stockman Rugano
A full recording of the event will be available shortly.