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Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda

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(From the left) Christian Sekomo, Director General at Rwanda's National Industrial Research and Development Agency; Filippo Uberti, General Secretary at Eni Foundation; Daniel Ngamije, Rwanda's Minister of Health; Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board; Luigi Ciarrocchi, Eni's Director CCUS, Forestry and Agri-feedstock; Uzziel Ndagijimana, Rwanda's Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Yves N. Iradukunda, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. Image credit: Eni

Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda    

Italian based multinational energy company Eni has signed four agreements with the Government of Rwanda to develop innovative joint initiatives in agriculture, protection of unique forest ecosystems, technology, and health.

Eni, headquartered in Rome, is one of the seven supermajor oil companies in the world. It has operations in 69 countries across the globe with an estimated market capitalisation of USD54.08-billion.

In the agricultural sector, the agreement signed with the National Industrial Research and Development Agency envisages the launch of a pilot project for the production of varieties of seeds for oil crops and the use of drones for soil analysis and crop monitoring.

The project, which represents the first ‘open-air laboratory’ on the African continent, will use the most advanced precision farming techniques to produce quality seeds in Rwanda that will be used in the agri-feedstock initiatives launched by Eni in other African countries to cultivate sustainable raw materials on degraded and abandoned land, not in competition with the food chain.

Luigi Ciarrocchi, CCUS, Forestry and Agro-Feedstock Director, says that Eni will work jointly with the Rwanda government to develop concrete projects for the country’s decarbonisation.

“At the same time we will be leveraging a business environment that is ideal to text innovative solutions and agribusiness activities generating high-added value,” says Ciarrocchi.

Protecting the unique forest ecosystem (Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda)    

The agreement, with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the non-profit tech start-up Rainforest Connection, aims to protect forests and generate carbon credits.

The parties will test cutting-edge technologies in areas with high levels of biodiversity, including Volcanoes National Park, a unique ecosystem for the presence of mountain gorillas.

Autonomous drones and acoustic sensors will be used in the experimentation. Using artificial intelligence algorithms, they will detect potential threats, such as illegal logging or hunting of protected species, responding to alarms with immediate targeted interventions.

“The signing of the cooperation agreements in various sectors is a testimony of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors collaborate to achieve sustainable goals. The agreements align with Rwanda’s target to be a hub for innovation, and we are glad that Eni is committed to being a partner in this journey,” says RDB CEO Clare Akamanzi.

Strengthening the health sector (Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda)     

In the health sector, Eni Foundation, together with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), signed a three-year agreement to strengthen basic maternal and child health services, with a focus on the management of obstetric emergencies, in four districts of the country: Gisagara, Musanze, Nyagatare and Rulindo, with a target population of about 1.5 million people.

The intended beneficiaries are mothers and children, vulnerable groups and health personnel. The initiative includes the construction of health infrastructure (maternity wards) and a capacity-building and training programme for communities and health personnel, according to Eni Foundation’s mission.

The cooperation agreement between Eni and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation will play a cross-cutting role in supporting initiatives in areas of common interest: from precision agriculture to forest monitoring and health. The parties will collaborate to disseminate these technologies and create synergies with the country’s start-ups.

According to Rwanda Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, this is the start of a long partnership. We hope to extend our cooperation to other areas in the future,” says Dr Ngamije.

The signing of the agreements kicks off Eni’s activities in Rwanda, in continuity with the memorandum of understanding signed with the government on 8 April 2022, capitalising on the country’s know-how in the technology and agriculture sector, which employs more than 60% of the workforce and contributes 25% of GDP. Indeed, Rwanda has, in recent years, become a regional and international hub of innovation with an increasing focus on energy transition.

Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda

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Oil company rolls out initiatives for innovation hubs in Rwanda       

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