Rwanda students “spill the tea” on the TEA Forum 2024

5 April 2024

A group of students from the University of Rwanda, attending the TEA Forum, standing in front of an Efficiency for Access banner.

Sponsored by Efficiency for Access, students from the University of Rwanda participating in the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge recently took a break from their projects and studies to attend the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda.

A group of students from the University of Rwanda, attending the TEA Forum, standing in front of an Efficiency for Access banner.
University of Rwanda students at the TEA Forum. The students, in alphabetical order: Francois Bizimana, Dushime Dieudonne, Olivier Dushimimana, Aline Gihozo, Divine Ishimwe Hatangimbabazi, Patrick Ndayisaba, Samuel Turahimana, Dative Tushabomwe, Victorien Ukurikiyimfura, and Pamella Uwicyeza. Their educator, Dr. John Musema, stands fourth from the left.

This event united innovators, policymakers, and investors with a shared mission: to accelerate clean energy access across the Global South. Through vibrant discussions and knowledge exchange, attendees explored innovative technologies, skills and business models, with Efficiency for Access hosting two sessions; one covering Off-Grid Appliances: Quality over Quantity, and the other discussing Sustainable Cold Chain.

For the students, this experience served as a gateway to understanding the critical role of clean energy and making connections with industry leaders.


Feedback from the Forum

We had the pleasure of hearing the students’ insights and reflections following their TEA Forum experience. This diverse group comprises two teams of Challenge participants, currently developing their off-grid cooling appliances. These include Team 2023-25 (Francois Bizimana, Aline Gihozo, Samuel Turahimana, Dative Tushabomwe and Victorien Ukurikiyimfura), who provided their feedback collectively, as well as Team 2023-20 (Dushime Dieudonne, Olivier Dushimimana, Divine Ishimwe Hatangimbabazi, Patrick Ndayisaba and Pamella Uwicyeza).

From pivotal moments to inspiring revelations, discover their key takeaways and lessons learned…


What were your expectations before attending the TEA Forum, and how did the actual experience compare? 

Team 2023-25: Initially, we anticipated garnering insights into energy access at the TEA Forum. However, the event surpassed my expectations, offering an intellectually stimulating experience. It served as a conduit for the dissemination of innovative ideas. Interactions with diverse stakeholders fostered knowledge exchange and collaborative endeavours.  It illuminated multifaceted nuances of energy access, thereby exceeding initial anticipations and enriching our academic journey.

Dushime Dieudonne: Before attending the TEA Forum, I was expecting to get much knowledge about the use of clean energy and we expected to know where we can get funds for clean energy projects. Though we had little experience, we did learn more about clean energy.

Olivier Dushimimana: Before attending the TEA Forum, I anticipated a platform dedicated to fostering collaboration and innovation in advancing clean energy access. The actual experience exceeded my expectations, offering a rich tapestry of engaging sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities that deeply resonated with the challenges and opportunities in the energy access space.

Patrick Ndayisaba: My expectations before attending the TEA Forum were to meet with diverse people and network with them. My expectations matched my actual experience as I interacted with many people, especially investors.

Pamella Uwicyeza: Before attending the TEA Forum, I anticipated encountering influential individuals who have implemented significant renewable energy solutions within their communities. The actual experience exceeded my expectations as I engaged with a diverse range of experts and gained invaluable insights into transformative energy access initiatives.


Were there any specific sessions, workshops, or speakers that left a lasting impression on you? 

Team 2023-25: The talks about making better appliances and improving cooling systems left a mark. They weren’t just informative; they were inspiring. The speakers shared their experiences and ideas, showing how crucial it is to work together to solve energy problems. It wasn’t just about machines; it was about people and how we can help each other live better lives.

Dushime Dieudonne: There was a specific session about off-grid energy, where we learned that it is important to use energy which does not harm the ecosystem.

Olivier Dushimimana at the TEA Forum
Olivier Dushimimana at the TEA Forum

Olivier Dushimimana: The sessions on “Off-Grid Appliances: Quality over Quantity” and “Sustainable Cold Chain: Amplifying Impact by Leveraging Lessons from the Experts” left a lasting impression on me.  The diverse lineup of speakers shared practical strategies and success stories that inspired meaningful action.


Pamella Uwicyeza: One speaker, Damilola Ogunbiyi, particularly resonated with me. Their impactful contributions to rural communities through the implementation of solar power solutions left a profound impression. Their endeavours not only improved health conditions but also empowered women and highlighted the multifaceted benefits of clean energy adoption.


What was your main takeaway from the event? Were there any memorable or inspiring moments that might contribute to your personal or professional development? 

Team 2023-25: It’s not just about talking about energy; it’s about working together to solve the big issues.  We need to think about making better products, training people, and finding money to make it all happen. These discussions showed me that solving energy problems isn’t easy, but it’s possible if we all pitch in.

Dushime Dieudonne: The main takeaway from the event was that children face high infant mortality rates in Africa, and there is a significant loss of yield in post-harvesting, which is a consequence of limited energy. In this forum, we have learned that clean energy plays an important role in addressing those issues and in protecting the environment.

Olivier Dushimimana:  Memorable moments, such as witnessing the passion and dedication of industry leaders and innovators, have stimulated my commitment to driving positive change in the energy access landscape.

Patrick Ndayisaba: My takeaway from the event was how I can use and apply energy efficiently in my business.

Pamella Uwicyeza: The primary takeaway from the event was the imperative of implementing energy solutions that benefit society at large. A memorable and inspiring moment was the round table discussion on the Low Energy Inclusive Appliances programme, which underscored the importance of inclusive energy access and sparked ideas for personal and professional development.


What key insights did you gain from attending? How has your knowledge or understanding of energy access been improved? 

Team 2023-25: I gained valuable insights into the interconnected nature of factors influencing energy access, ranging from product quality to policy frameworks. Learning about the significance of workforce development, financing mechanisms, and supportive policies deepened my appreciation for the complexity of the issue.

Dushime Dieudonne: Previously, I recognised that the sun rises and helps to dry the harvest, but I did not know that sun rays can be used to preserve yields and maintain their freshness. Additionally I was unaware that sunlight can be used in hospitals to save patients. With this takeaway I’ve learned how we can trap sun rays and turn them into something important for society.

Olivier Dushimimana: I gained valuable insights into innovative technologies and best practices that can accelerate progress towards universal energy access, ultimately contributing to improved livelihoods and environmental sustainability.

Patrick Ndayisaba: My knowledge about energy access really improved because of experts in energy we met. I also got information that the energy access sector can reduce unemployment through job opportunities, for example technicians.

Pamella Uwicyeza: Attending the TEA Forum provided me with invaluable insights into the necessity of universal energy access and innovative approaches to achieving this goal. My understanding of energy access has been enriched, empowering me to contribute effectively to transformative energy initiatives in my community.


How did you find the networking opportunities? Did you make any new connections or friendships during the event?

Team 2023-25: The TEA Forum provided enriching networking opportunities, facilitating connections with diverse stakeholders in the energy sector. Engaging with industry experts, policymakers, and innovators was invaluable, offering insights and perspectives that broadened my understanding of energy access challenges and solutions.  Meeting individuals from different backgrounds and expertise areas enhanced the depth and breadth of my professional network, paving the way for future partnerships and collective efforts towards addressing energy access barriers.

Dushime Dieudonne: In this forum, we found numerous opportunities, including organisations that fund clean energy projects. Therefore it is our responsibility as youth to conduct extensive research on the uses of clean energy.

Olivier Dushimimana: The networking opportunities at the TEA Forum were exceptional, enabling me to connect with a diverse array of professionals, policymakers, and entrepreneurs passionate about energy access. I forged new connections and friendships that I believe will foster collaboration and knowledge exchange beyond the event.

Patrick Ndayisaba: It was really amazing, because I got the opportunity to meet with investors, experts and other people who are working in the energy sector.

Pamella Uwicyeza: The networking opportunities at the TEA Forum were invaluable. I had enriching conversations with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including NGOs focused on providing energy to refugees. These interactions facilitated new connections and friendships and provided avenues for acquiring skills relevant to our shared goal of expanding energy access.


How do you plan to apply or share what you’ve learned or experienced at the TEA Forum with your peers or community? 

Team 2023-25:  I plan to integrate the knowledge acquired into my work projects, advocating for energy access solutions and fostering collaborations with stakeholders. Additionally, I aim to disseminate the learnings from the forum through various channels, such as workshops, presentations, and online platforms.

Dushime Dieudonne: Through society meetings and group discussions with my peers, we will share our experiences and discuss how we can maintain clean energy for future sustainability.

Olivier Dushimimana: I plan to apply the insights and experiences by incorporating them into my work and advocating for innovative solutions to energy access challenges within my professional network and community.

Patrick Ndayisaba: I’m planning to apply the lessons and knowledge I learned at the TEA Forum in our project, and our community will benefit from it when it succeeds.

Pamella Uwicyeza: I intend to disseminate the knowledge and experiences gained at the TEA Forum within my peer group and community. This includes sharing insights with peers and collaborating on projects such as our “Automated Solar-Powered Flesh Cooling Appliance” initiative, thereby fostering awareness and action towards energy access solutions.


Please summarise your experiences at the TEA Forum using 3 words. 

Team 2023-25: Learning, Connecting, Growing

Olivier Dushimimana: Enriching, collaborative, and inspiring.

Dushime Dieudonne: Think big, focus on important things and practice more.

Patrick Ndayisaba: Opportunity to learn.

Pamella Uwicyeza: Transformative, inspirational and empowering.


The Path Forward

The students’ reflections paint a vivid picture of the profound impact of the TEA Forum, serving as a reminder of the pivotal role collaborative events play in driving positive change in the realm of clean energy access. They underscore the significance of young people, the cornerstone of our workforce, in shaping the future of sustainable energy. Aligned with this principle, the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge empowers young minds by developing their skills, and strengthening the foundation of our workforce.

As the students continue to apply and share their learnings, let’s also renew our own efforts in advancing a brighter, sustainable, and inclusive future for all.


Program Partner

  • Engineers Without Borders UK

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