By Jean-Marie Nibizi, Country Manager, Kaboni
Executive Director of SHINE PAYG, Pastor and Peace Facilitator
My desire, from my early youth, has been to see Burundians prosper economically and socially, getting out of extreme poverty and ethnic rivalries’ in this country. Renewable energy will transform beneficiaries’ lives by bringing to them economic upliftment and social cohesion.
Burundi, one of Africa’s smallest, landlocked countries, is known as “The Heart of Africa” because of its shape and location within the continent. It remains primarily a poor rural society and its land is used mostly for subsistence agriculture. which has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. As of 2005, the country was almost completely deforested, with less than 6% of its land covered by trees and over half of that being commercial plantations.Its three ethnic groups, Twa, Hutu and Tutsi, now live harmoniously together to the extent that no one can presently see the signs of the painful past of civil war. Hospitality is very important in Burundi. Its population is loving, hospitable and hard working but is still suffering from food insecurity, extreme economic and energy poverty.
Motivated by my compassion and love for my country, I founded SHINE in 2002 and SHINE PAYG in 2019, and led its transition from an NGO to a solar home systems social enterprise. Its objective is to empower Burundians to solve their own problems through various social entrepreneurial models, focused on renewable energy and technology transfer, delivering training in climate change, poverty alleviation and renewable energy.
I needed to see this vision spread across the country, that’s why I joined forces with Kaboni as a country manager along with other locals! The Burundi project is Kaboni’s most ambitious energy development programme so far through which we intend to build a vertically integrated small utility. Kaboni has been allocated two towns in South-Eastern Burundi by the energy ministry and agreed to implement them in three stages. In the first stage we will build this small pilot solar PV mini-grid that will initially serve 50 to 250 homes and businesses and is now open for investment via Genervest.
The end goal of the project is to connect hundreds of thousands of people, commercial and and larger businesses like mines and agricultural producers to high quality, consistent, clean electricity in one of the poorest countries in the world.