Dutch solar developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief has closed $23.7 million in financing for an 8.5 MW PV plant in Rwanda. The project, said to be East Africa’s first utility-scale solar field, will increase the country’s power generation capacity by approximately 8%. Funders include Norwegian development finance institution Norfund, Norwegian-headquartered Scatec Solar, Dutch development bank FMO and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).

Scatec is the lead equity investor and is serving both as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance provider.

The PV plant will be located 60 km from the capital Kigali on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) for young people orphaned during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Power from the plant will be fed into the national grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Construction has already started and commercial operation of the solar field is expected by the summer of 2014.

With limited power generation at its disposal, the government of Rwanda has introduced an aggressive plan to boost the nation’s generation capacity. The objective is for 50% of the population to have access to electricity by 2017.