A Bridge2Rwanda scholar Aurore Manzi’s Internship reflection in HOBUKA Ltd

I interned with HOBUKA Ltd. for a little less than two months from June 17th to August 3rd 2018, the summer after my second year in college. Since I am interested in learning and working with Energy, the driving force of development and sustainability, I expected the internship to guide me in comprehending Rwanda’s energy sector that I knew very little about. I had tons of questions like what are the sources of energy for the country, what sources aren’t we making use of, why aren’t we using them, how hard is it to electrify the whole country, what are some goals the energy industries have put in place in realtion to Rwanda’s vision 2020.

Having just finished my second year in college and doing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental science away from home, in Texas, there is a lot I didn’t know about energy, let alone about Rwanda’s energy sector. So, I had a lot to learn in just two months. So, In order to bring me up to date with Rwanda’s energy sector, during my internship I attended conferences, workshops, and seminars, and I worked on HOBUKA Ltd’s different ongoing projects that each exposed me to a different, but crucial part of the energy sector.

During my stay at HOBUKA Ltd I attended a conference by GOGLA (The Global Off-Grid Lighting Association) that presented the result of a research done in five countries, Rwanda included, about the economic impacts of off-grid electricity accessibility to communities in remote areas. Some of the economic impacts presented are the creation of new job opportunities, enhancement of business revenues, and additional working hours which increases incomes. On a panel, different officials in the conference also advanced issues that the energy sector faces which might be critical for Rwanda’s 2024 goal of 100% electrification. The most recurrent issue was systems’ affordability which not only fails communities because they cannot buy them, but also leaves the developers in losses as they are not selling their products. Another issue that developers, especially private developers, face are public institutions’ bureaucracies that prolongs processes leading to the loss of investments previously acquired by private developers. As discussed during the conference, the solution to most of the issues is a maintained and smooth collaboration between the government and private developers; especially government institutions need to make processes easier and shorter to ease private developers’ tasks.

Moreover, I attended an award giving ceremony by SNV (Smart Development Works), IPRC (Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center), and JILA (Joint Institute for Astrophysics) to trainees who completed a four years training program about mini hydro power plants, where they were taught how to manufacture equipment/machines necessary/used in Hydro Electric Power Plant, to build and assemble a Hydro Electric Power Plant, and to maintain it. I also went to a SIEMENS-an international energy developer-technical workshop about different solutions to solve current shortages and technical and non-technical losses for the efficient production and consumption of energy in our developing world.These were such a meaningful events because they portray the effort the government is putting in empowering local energy workers and private developers to bring in their products and ideas which are mostly crucial for the 2024 goal of total electrification

In addition to attending different seminars that gave me an overview of the work being done in the energy industry, I also learned about different factors that go into electrifying areas. Specifically, I did a case study on hydro-electric power plants since HOBUKA Ltd has one, MUDASOMWA Pico Hydro Power Plant, under construction in Nyaruguru district. I read the project proposal and business plan which include all the steps taken for the project to be existent today. The project was planned and studied in detail from the identification of resources and communities in need, to the communities’ electrification plan, the mitigation methods to prevent any harm towards the communities and their surroundings, and the benefits it will bring to the communities. After reading about MUDASOMWA Pico Hydro Power Plant, to prepare for the next step, field construction works/civil works, I read a micro hydro power scout guide to learn different specifics/parts of a hydroelectric power plant to get a notion of the things I will be seeing once I go on the field. Once I went on site I was able to observe the ongoing works, all the parts I had read about, and their roles, and experienced first hand how electricity would be produced and distributed to the community.

Lastly, my favorite part about the internship is that after learning about Rwanda’s energy sector, I got to apply some of the skills I acquired. For instance reading HOBUKA Ltd.’s different projects’ plans, business plans, and feasibility studies I learned about several steps taken from a project idea to its implementation. Thus, I was able to apply the skills I acquired on the World Bank Expression Of Interests proposal. My colleagues and I prepared a project proposal to request funds from the world bank. The project proposal we prepared is about ElectriData, an application system that would be used to manage electricity and customers’ information. The project proposal included project deliverable in measurable terms, budget plan, the different sustainable development goals addressed, the projects’ end users and the expected impacts on the later, the project’s innovation, and the project’s methodologies and plan. Preparing the proposal was an exercise for me to apply and put into action the steps that I had observed in other Hobuka ltd.’s projects planification.

Briefly, my internship at Hobuka ltd. was a fruitful one because I learned about and explored different fields in the energy sector. I have always aspired to work in the energy sector, but I knew very little about it especially about the Rwandan energy sector. For instance, I had never been to an energy power plant before nor did I know what off-grid, on-grid, or mini-grid meant. Working with Hobuka ltd. definitely exposed me to different fields, jargons, issues, companies, projects, and on-going activities/works in the energy sector. Today, I think I can confidently hold a conversation and inform people in detail about my country’s energy sector. Also, this internship will enhance my learning experience at university since I will be able to relate my courses to what I have learned during my stay at Hobuka ltd.