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Finally Poor Rwandans Can Get Electricity, As Cheapest Solar System Hits The Market

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It is a Friday morning, May 31, 2019 and Jean Pierre Havugimana is window-shopping at a local market in Gicumbi district, Northern Rwanda

Havugimana is holding a Techno smart phone and another USSD simple phone (karasharamye).

The smart phone is off. It’s battery is down.

He is mad his smart phone has been off for the past twelve hours. He cannot chat on social media, take  pictures or record some videos.

He is looking for a nearby kiosk to charge his phone at Rwf100.

Havugimana could have charged his phone at home, but in his village there is no electricity.

His village is not connected to the national electricity grid.

As he walks around the market, greeting friends and admiring merchandise displayed, Havugimana’s attention is attracted by the music playing in a large orange decorated tent a few meters away from the market.

He crosses the road.

Runs to the tent to catch a closer glimpse of hired Rwandan pop music dancers from Kigali who are entertaining the crowd.

The entertains are here to promote NOTS’ MUTIMAX Solar System (MSS) for Rwf 52,500 on credit, distributed by NOTS Solar Lamps Ltd, an impact enterprise with the goal of providing affordable electricity to about 900,000 Rwandan families.

“Wait a minute, Rwf 52,500 only?” Havugimana asks a stranger next to him to confirm whether he heard it right.

“Yes, they said Rwf 52,500, and payable in two years,” the stranger responds. “Listen carefully, they are saying that you can pay in installments, only Rwf 525 per week.”

Once the payment is completed, the family will enjoy free electricity.

At the event, Havugimana is joined by another resident, Francis Safari.

Safari is a very furious man.

He has not had electricity in house for weeks after his solar system, broke down.

He is not happy that he has to be subjected to this irritating experience, yet he has invested over Rwf 80,000 to acquire the broken solar system.

“I hope this system is better than the one I bought,” Safari tells a MUTIMAX agent. “It is even cheaper,” he adds. “Can I buy one now, I really need one. I can’t continue being in the dark and lighting agatadowa (kerosene lamp).”

The crowd is excited about this new offering in the district, as Safari and Havugimana are.

The activation of MUTIMAX Solar Systems comes to Gicumbi district, where only 10,000 of almost 400,000 people have of the population has no access to any kind of electricity.

Although there are other solar energy providers, MUTIMAX offers the cheapest 3-lamp solar system on the market, while the quality of the MUTIMAX system is equal or higher. Plus, MUTIMAX provides 3 years warranty, instead of the standard 2 years.

MUTIMAX Solar System will be piloted in three districts; Gicumbi, Rulindo and Bugesera.

The pilot comes at a time when the Northern Province itself is unveiling an electrification agenda of having 100% access to electricity by 2024, according to Ferdinand Karake, adviser to the Governor of the province.

“We thank NOTS Solar Lamps Ltd for considering the poor population. It is very crucial that the poor people can have access to electricity,” says Karake.

“We will sensitize our people to buy this kit, Rwf 525 per week is not much money. They should put it in the family performance contract. They can do it,” he adds.

The Executive Secretary of GIcumbi District, Epimaque Mpayimana, who also attended the launch, says that one of the reasons why access to electricity is low, is because of lack of financial means.

“When you get something cheap like MUTIMAX Solar System, especially for those with limited financial capacity, it is such a big relief,” he says. “This product is affordable and we think this is a huge contribution to our efforts of electricity roll out.”

Meanwhile, after the official activation, some residents immediately signed up to have their solar system delivered home.

For one to get a MSS, they must be an Airtel Money client. NOTS and Airtel have entered into agreement to facilitate Airtel Money clients to make their weekly payments of Rwf 525 in an easy way.

“I come to the market every Friday to sell my crops. I cannot fail to raise Rwf 525. This is good. I am done with moving around looking for a charging kiosk and living in a house with no electricity,” says Safari.

The MUTIMAX Solar System powers three lamps concurrently for 6 hours, plus a radio for 6 hours, plus 4 hours of mobile phone charging. The kit is more affordable, more convenient, brighter, safer and cleaner than the ‘agatadowa’ a’…(kerosene lamp).

The company has a plan to set up a manufacturing plant for MUTIMAX Solar Systems in Kigali, worth $70 million of investment, according to its CEO and Founder, Bart Hartman.

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Ethiopia & IMF In Talks To Revamp Old Debt

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Ethiopia asked the International Monetary Fund for a new deal, days after France and China co-chaired the first meeting of the nation’s major creditors panel to rework the nation’s previous debt.

Setting up a creditors’ panel and an agreement on how to deal with Ethiopia’s nearly U$30 billion of external debt paves the way for the IMF to determine how to engage with the country on economic recovery.

The lender’s executive board has yet to approve disbursements from the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility, the former of which has expired — despite reaching staff-level agreements.

The government requested a new IMF credit arrangement, potentially with a similar amount, to replace the one that just lapsed, State Minister for Finance Eyob Tekalign told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Addis Ababa.

A new ECF will grant Ethiopia access to concessional resources under a poverty reduction and growth program, he said.

The IMF board in December 2019 approved an equivalent of $2.9 billion for Ethiopia’s two credit arrangements.

On Thursday, the Washington-based lender said it was “too soon” to engage with Ethiopia over any possible new program.

The formation of an Ethiopian creditors panel marks a breakthrough in a global push to restructure the debt of poor countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic under the Group of 20’s common framework.

It could also set a roadmap for the role of private creditors on the same.

The panel may propose that commercial lenders push their payment-due dates by one or two years, Eyob said later in an interview.

“The creditors committee will reach an agreement on some parameters on how to deal with comparable debt treatment,” Eyob said. The “sense we got is that there was no strong opinion on this, so we’re hopeful in getting the required amount of debt being restructured without market disruption.”

Ethiopia’s announcement on Jan. 29 that it plans to restructure its debt triggered a selloff of its $1 billion of Eurobonds. The yield on the 2024 debt has since risen, and traded at a record high of 11.75% by 11:07 a.m. in London.

Ethiopia’s economic pain, following the hit from the pandemic, was exacerbated by a civil war in its northern Tigray region, which has depleted government finances.

Ethiopia, along with at least two other African nations, Chad and Zambia, have approached creditors for debt relief under the G-20 program that aims to rework the debt for countries at risk of defaulting amid the fallout from the virus.

China’s inclusion as the co-chair of the creditor committee is key, according to Mark Bohlund, a senior credit analyst at REDD Intelligence.

It “strengthens the likelihood that re-profiling of debt service to bilateral creditors will need to be reciprocated by commercial creditors, for instance through a consent solicitation with eurobond holders to delay coupon payments,” Bohlund said.

Bloomberg

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Airtel Rwanda Partners With Canal+ To Ease Payment Of Subscription Fees Via Airtel Money

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Airtel Rwanda and Canal+ Rwanda have launched a partnership, enabling customers to easily make subscription payments.

The partnership announced at a joint press conference today provides clients of both CANAL+ and Airtel a simpler, instant and secure payments method using Airtel Money.

CANAL+ Rwanda is the subsidiary of CANAL+INTERNATIONAL, TV operator by satellite in Africa and present in over  25 African countries.

CANAL+ Rwanda have a trilingual package with 200 channels in French, Kinyarwanda and English and it offers accessible bouquet starting from 5,000 Francs with a distribution network throughout the country.

Speaking at the launch event, Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Hamez said “We are delighted to launch this new service on our Airtel Money platform we welcome all Canal+ customers to enjoy the convenience and simplicity offered by Airtel Money both on the USSD as well as in the My Airtel App”.

The new service that was launched today comes on the heels of an ongoing Airtel Money campaign called Free P2P which enables all Airtel Money customers to send and receive any amount of money for FREE.

“Free P2P or Ohereza Amafaranga Ku Buntu was launched in June 2021 saw Airtel scrap all charges to send and receive money between customers, a major differentiator that positions Airtel Money to become the provider of choice when it comes to payment of good and services such Canal+ that we have launched today” added Hamez.

Canal+ Rwanda’s Managing Director, Madam Sophie TCHATCHOUA said “It gives me great pleasure to allow Canal+ client to renew their subscription with Airtel Money. The successful integration of our mutual services makes life easier for our beloved customers who can now recharge and seamlessly have their images back and all this can be done from the comfort of their home”.

To renew your subscription via Airtel Money, customers can simply dial the direct short code string *500*4*3*2*4*1# on either their smartphone on feature phone, input their 14 Digit of their decoder  number, select their preferred bouquet and make the payment which is recognized by the Canal+ billing system instantly.

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Hundreds Of Passengers Miss Flight In Uganda Due To Delayed COVID-19 Tests

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Hundreds of Ugandans have been left stranded at Entebbe International Airport by the Emirates Airways after the laboratory where they had taken their Covid-19 results delayed to return them on time.

In a Snapchat post by Ugandan socialite Sheila Gashumba, she ranted, ‘’When I tell Ugandans that Covid in Uganda is a business they say I have ‘kajanja’.

Now all Emirates passengers have missed their flights because Safari Lab sent Covid results at 2:45pm and Emirates closed its gate at 3pm.

The hospital said it couldn’t work on everyone in the short time.

Around 300 passengers missed their flight yet Safari Lab had made a total of UgSh75m since everyone had paid UGX 250,000 for the test.

In the video where all passengers were visibly angry and frustrated, they can be heard asking for what the solution is and who is going to pay for the tickets again now that those that they had paid for can no longer be used anymore.

Passengers expressed their frustration at the rot in the service.

“I experienced such thing in March as the officers in charge claimed that the gates were close at 1pm as the flight was at 3pm,” one twitter user said.

Some made jokes out of it and asked, if this was because of the US$10 tax that is in the process of being introduced and will be paid by anyone that leaves the country using the Entebbe International Airport.

Another twitter user @kasoxialex2000 asked, ‘’@UgandaCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority), but seriously you guys when you move to some airports don’t you copy something? Why are we ever backwards??? Stop embarrassing us. Who will save Uganda’’
By press time there was no official communication from the Civil Aviation Authority, Safari Lab nor Emirates Airways.

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