An Israeli citizen is building Rwanda’s first solar array, which will provide both electricity to the people of Rwanda as well as economic empowerment to Rwandan orphans.
Dual American-Israeli citizen Yosef Abramowitz is in the process of finalizing a deal between Energiya Global and the Rwandan government on the building of Rwanda’s first solar field. The solar power plant would be built east of the country’s capital city of Kigali, at the Agahozo- Shalom Youth Village, a boarding school for genocide orphans that was founded by a South African Jewish philanthropist based on the Israeli model for dealing with trauma victims.
The company hopes not only to bring clean energy to Rwanda, but to encourage the young orphans who survived the Rwandan genocide to be able to be economically self-sufficient. “We’re not your regular solar developer. We want to empower people and communities. The solar fields can provide revenue and give people life. I’d like to be the catalyst. I just want to show people it’s possible. We feel that we are brothers and sisters with the Rwandan people, because we have also come from darkness into light,” Abramowitz said. Once this deal goes into effect, solar power will provide 8 percent of Rwanda’s energy needs.
RWANDA AND ISRAEL
Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, is a friend of the State of Israel. For him, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village symbolizes the wonderful relationship that exists between the Jewish state and the Rwandan people. “In Rwanda we feel very much closely associated with Israel,” he said. “We are happy to build on this, on these symbols of togetherness.” Kagame has also noted the similarities between the Tutsi and Jewish peoples, claiming that they were both the victims of racist dehumanization by enemies possessing genocidal intentions. He has acknowledged Yad Vashem’s important work in memorializing genocide victims, as well as reaching out to Rwandan Genocide survivors.
Kagame has visited Israel on more than one occasion. He was in Israel when the Jewish state celebrated her 60th birthday, as well as for the Presidential Conference marking Israeli President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday. While in Israel for Peres’ 90th birthday, Kagame visited Kibbutz Shfayim to meet with 30 Rwandan students presently in Israel to study agriculture as part of a special training program run by the Rwandan and Israeli agriculture ministries.
ISRAEL HAS MUCH TO OFFER REGARDING SOLAR POWER
Israeli solar power is considered world class. American and Israeli universities have collaborated on renewable energy. In addition to launching Energiya Global, Abramowitz is a three-time Nobel Prize nominee and the co-founder of Arava Power Company. “They are rolling out the red carpet for us in Africa,” says Abramowitz. “We looked at 75 markets around the world, which is half the planet that doesn’t yet have commercial solar power. There are 1.6 billion people on the planet today without electricity. 1.6 billion. Look at the hungriest people on the planet. Look at the ones who don’t have clean water. It’s the same people. It’s all preventable.”
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel