Posted by: DHE Rwanda | July 28, 2011

Adventures in Northern Rwanda

We had quite a day yesterday!  Colin and I went with Richard and Mikolaj to check up on e.quinox’s solar site in Minazi and look at some hydro sites in the northwest.  We left at 7am and took dirt road after dirt road to get to the remote village of Minazi.  The kiosk in Minazi is e.quinox’s first and most successful energy kisok.  In fact, on the way there all we had to do was show their logo, and people pointed us in the right direction, even when we were a 15 minute drive away.  In the hour that we were there, 2 customers came to recharge their battery boxes as well.  There were a few issues, such as the customers’ strong preference for one edition of the battery box and a few LED light failures, but there will be a return trip at some point this summer to take care of them.

Inside e.quinox's solar powered Energy Kiosk

Large turbine casing, would have liked to look inside

Next, we headed north on a dirt road to look at some potential hydro-sites.  We checked out at site that had good head and flow*, but was really rocky and would have been very difficult to build on.  We then saw another site nearby, which unfortunately had zero flow since it’s the end of the dry season here.  We headed up near Ruhugeri and stopped to check out a site that had been abandoned for 50 years.  The site had small head and a huge flow, so it was interesting to see the beefed-up civil works that went along with the large flow.

The site was fun to see and not far out of the way, but it’s way to close to the grid and has way too huge of a flow for us to implement anything.  Our final stop was in a town called Shyra.  We explored for a while but couldn’t find any waterfalls before it started to get dark.    The area around Shyra might be promising though; there are a lot of rivers and hills, and the community has a hospital and school, which obviously would be great to electrify.  We already started bonding with the kids too!  We obviously attract a lot of attention walking around these remote villages, so we always have a string of kids following us wherever we go.  We played a few games of ‘Catch the Mzungu’ (Kinyarwanda word for foreigner) on the way back to the car which brought quite a bit of laughter from the kids.


A few kilometers from a micro-hydro system that we may visit sometime.



By that time, it was too dark to visit the last site that we wanted to see, so we’ll have to head up north again to see it and explore around Shyra a bit more.  The ride back was actually pretty awful since we were cramped in the car, wet from rain and didn’t get home until 10.  Still, it was a great day of seeing sites and also seeing beautiful Rwanda.





*Head is the total vertical distance that the water drops.  The maximum total power that could be gained from a site is:

head (m)  x flow (L/s) x gravity (~10m/s^2) = Power (W)

This power is never actual achieved since we don’t divert the full flow of the river and due to inefficiencies in the system, but it  can give us an idea of what we’re looking at.



  1. This is the most educational blog ever!
    The photos and the informational about the Rwandan people, and the Dartmouth/British students, is wonderful– all this– and

    head (m) x flow (L/s) x gravity (~10m/s^2) = Power (W), too!

    Engineering! indeed!

    Keep up the great work!

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