The use of refrigerators has seen a steady uptake in Rwanda raising concerns on their environmental effects. The latest report by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) analyses this impact.
The Domestic Refrigerating Appliance and Room Air Conditioner Market Study found that Kigali leads with 30,155 refrigerator owners; followed by the Southern Province with 23,389; Western Province 17,341; Eastern Province 16,052; and the Northern Province with 10,575 refrigerators.
Driven by a steady rise in economic growth and a significant expansion of electrification, more Rwandans are now using refrigerators. A total of 97,512 refrigerators in Rwanda were in circulation in 2020.
However, even as 58.6% of the fridges in households are new – meaning they were bought less than three years ago – the study shows that there is a large number, 36% (which is approximately 35,104 households) who purchased their refrigerating appliances more than four years ago and may still use potent gas that deplete ozone layer.
The New Times reports that the findings of the study indicate medium-income households, high-income households and micro-entrepreneurs in urban areas control the big market.
The study underpins the development of a financial mechanism that aims to accelerate the switch to more energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling solutions.
The role of the Kigali Amendment in Rwanda
As the number of household refrigerators and air conditioners are expected to increase substantially in the next 15 years, environmentalists say countries have to ratify and implement the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The Kigali Amendment aims to reduce the production and consumption of gases used in cooling equipment by more than 80% over the next 30 years.
With the potential to avoid up to 0.4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, the amendment is an important tool to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid catastrophic climate change.
“Let us be inspired by the Kigali Amendment and the Montreal Protocol and seize the opportunity in Glasgow by delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement,” said Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister for Environment in Rwanda.
In the lead up to the COP26 UN Climate Summit in November this year in Glasgow, Scotland, more than ever, the world needs to demonstrate emission reductions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
She made the call while celebrating five years of the Kigali Amendment at the Kigali Convention Centre where the Kigali Amendment was signed in 2016.
To date, 127 countries have ratified the amendment. Rwanda ratified it in 2017, one year after it was adopted.
“Rwanda stands ready to do our part. We are committed to achieving our short-term climate action plan and our long-term vision to be carbon neutral by 2050,” she said.
Juliet Kabera, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), said Rwanda has so far reduced ozone-depleting gases by 54%. She pointed out there are different financing mechanisms including grants to help shift to environmental friendly appliances and gases.
“The country has also adopted a National Cooling Strategy that promotes energy-efficient appliances that comply with minimum energy performance standards. Rwanda is also committed to catalysing cold chain solutions that are more efficient, climate-friendly and cheaper to buy and operate,” said Kabera.
Rwanda also hosts the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain – a permanent centre established in partnership with the United Kingdom, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Centre for Sustainable Cooling and leading academics.
The Centre will foster collaboration on research and development, capacity building, awareness raising, technology deployment and investment in market-appropriate solutions.
REMA has also launched a facilitation to offer on-bill financing to make energy-efficient and climate-friendly refrigerators and air conditioners more affordable.
The scheme is under Rwanda Cooling Finance Initiative (R-COOL FI) implemented by REMA and supported by UNEP’s United for Efficiency initiative. It aims to promote energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling and recycling of existing inefficient systems.
The project wants toto unlock $4 million in financing to support the purchase of 12,500 energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling products in Rwanda by 2024.