Rwanda’s government has signed a power purchase agreement for the country's first grid-connected solar project.

The project will be in built with GigaWatt Global Rwanda in Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, Rwamagana District, Eastern Province and is said to be the first of its kind in East Africa.

Gigawatt Global, a Dutch co-op that was established by the same American founders of Arava Power Company, will design, finance, maintain and operate the plant. The plant is expected to be operating by June 2014 and is valued at an estimated US$23 million. The signing ceremony was held at Rwanda's Ministry of Infrastructure.

Energy minister Emma Francoise Isumbingabo said: “Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is a priority for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5MW of clean energy is an important addition towards closing our current energy gap.”

Rawanda Development Board acting chief operating officer Tony Nsanganira said: "Energy is key in driving Rwanda’s economic development" and welcomed investors such as GigaWatt Global in benefiting Rwandans directly as well as contributing to Rwanda’s competitiveness.

Only 8% of households in Rwanda currently have access to grid electricity, with shortages and blackouts regularly occurring. But the country has high solar irradiation levels.