Rwandan Entrepreneur’s Solar-Powered Mobile Kiosks Charge Phones, Create Jobs


Mobile phones are essential in Rwanda. More than 70 percent of the population owns a one and many people own two or more. Yet, just 22 percent of people have access to electricity, meaning they have trouble charging all these phones, according to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority.

This is where entrepreneur Henri Nyakarundi saw a niche. His business, African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED), consists of  solar-powered charging kiosks that provide phone charging as well as airtime and mobile money transfers. He has developed a franchise system where people run his kiosks as their own businesses.

Nyakarundi won the American Society for Mechanical Engineers’ Innovation Showcase which recognizes entrepreneurs for hardware-led social ventures.

The son of Rwandan refugees, Nyakarundi  was born in Kenya and grew up in Burundi. He went to Rwanda for the first time in 1996 on vacation after the war ended. Moving to Atlanta, U.S., in 1996, Nyakarundi attended university, earning a degree in computer science from Georgia State University. In 2012 he returned to live in Rwanda full time.

Nyakarundi spoke to AFKInsider on why he left the US to venture into the solar business in Rwanda.
Read the full story in Afkinsider here