ARC which stands for Affordable, Reliable and Clean solar electricity has been in operation in Rwanda since 2017 and has immediate plans to connect 16,000 of its citizens nationwide. The creation of the Solar Business Parks reflects ARC’s desire to further empower rural communities of Rwanda and facilitate the emergence of untapped local business potential.
ARC Power’s team on the ground is comprised of 95% Rwandan nationals and is now installing first time, grid-quality power to communities where commercial activity has hence far been limited due to a lack of electricity.
The first of the parks- located in Murama in the Bugesera District- has recently opened its doors for business. Originally sporting four units, soon to expand to seven, the Solar Business Park will provide a home for a locally owned bakery, tailors, milling station and a welding shop. By early 2021, a further two Parks will go live to the Rwandan public.
The Business Park operates a ‘plug-and-pay’ business model which allows local entrepreneurs to pay for the power used, and the space they occupy at the park, at an agreed rate. For their part, ARC Power will provide any machinery required by the entrepreneurs on finance and charge businesses a small rental fee for each unit.
Community engagement is at the heart of ARC Power’s work and residents will be consulted on their specific wants and needs before future Business Park plans are drawn up. Each site will therefore differ from the last and reflect the community it serves. It is not just about business, however, as ARC Power hopes to install an open-air cinema on the Murama site when Covid restrictions are lifted.
By the end of 2021, ARC Power plans to have at least 20 Solar Business Parks up and running to power the creation of more than a hundred new businesses across Rwanda.
Commenting on the development, CEO of ARC Power, Karl Boyce, said: “Our work has always been about empowering the people of Rwanda by providing a solution to a lack of reliable power in rural areas. Through ARC Power’s clean, sustainable and dependable mini-grids we are well on our way and the creation of our Solar Business Parks is a further indication of our long-term intentions.”
“It is one thing bringing power to rural areas, but we want to facilitate an expansion of commercial activities in these places, and by building Solar Business Parks and assisting budding local entrepreneurs with the cost of machinery, we hope to support the next wave of Rwandan businesses to build something meaningful,” he added.