Market assessment and updates of Rwanda’s national cooling strategy

In Rwanda, the purchase of household refrigerators and ACs is increasing with economic growth. As part of the national cooling strategy, the country has launched a public awareness campaign on efficient cooling appliances, along with enforcing minimum energy performance standards. 

In May 2017, Rwanda became the 39th country to ratify the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. [1] In 2019, Rwanda enacted a National Cooling Strategy with the objective of implementing more sustainable cooling solutions. According to the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), the country has already reduced the importation of ozone-depleting substances by 54%. [2] 


Air conditioner and refrigerator market assessment in Rwanda [3] 


In Rwanda, demand for refrigeration, including air conditioning, is projected to increase substantially over the next 15 years as the population and economy continue to grow.  


According to a market assessment report for the Rwanda Cooling Finance Initiative (RCOOL FI), very few households (about 2%) own an air conditioner (AC) but there is a growing demand in the commercial sector. However, the suppliers surveyed believe that with the introduction of initiatives promoting more energy-efficient cooling appliances, such as financial schemes, the AC market penetration could improve significantly.  


In terms of the number of units sold, the wall-mounted mini-split system is the most popular AC technology in the Rwandan market. It is one of the easiest systems to install and remove. 92% of the mini-split systems sold in Rwanda are non-inverter (fixed-speed) systems. They have a simple design and are therefore less expensive to purchase initially, but more costly to operate since they waste more electricity than inverter (variable-speed) systems.   


By assuming a steady increase in the purchase of refrigerators since the last census data, the authors of the RCOOLFI report estimated that the number of household refrigerators was about 81,000 in 2017 and about 97,500 in 2019. This estimated increase is supported by the constant economic growth observed in Rwanda between 2012 and 2019, along with a significant expansion in electrification.   


According to the REMA, about 74% of refrigerators in Rwanda could be considered obsolete. The energy wasted by these inefficient cooling appliances has been estimated at approximately 4 billion Rwandan francs annually (about USD 4 million) of wasted electricity, or an excess of 2.4 billion (about USD 2.4 million). [4] 


Awareness campaign on efficient cooling in Rwanda [4] 


In early March 2021, the REMA launched a campaign to raise awareness of more cost-effective refrigerators and air conditioners. The new awareness campaign on efficient cooling  is scheduled to last several months. It will target users of ACs and refrigerators from different settings (including homes, offices, grocery stores, bars, hotels, supermarkets) and inform them of the significant benefits of more energy-saving and environmentally friendly cooling. People wishing to purchase new cooling appliances will be encouraged to always check their energy consumption and whether the appliances are HFC-free. 


Minimum energy performance standards for ACs and refrigerators in Rwanda [5] 


In 2021, Rwanda has started restricting the import of cooling equipment and refrigerants that do not comply with the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) set in 2019 by the Rwanda National Cooling Strategy.  The average energy efficiency ratio (EER) of ACs currently available in Rwanda is approximately 3.0. This has been estimated to be consistent with the average EER in other African countries, which is about 2.8 to 3.4.  


A Rwanda Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (RSEER), defined using ISO Cooling Seasonal Performance Factor (CSPF) with a distribution of Rwanda’s outdoor temperature, will be used to establish minimum energy performance requirements and labels. 


As of 2021, MEPS for ductless split air conditioners and self-contained air conditioners are as follows: 


Rated cooling capacity

Compressor type

Refrigerant requirements (upper limits)

  Fixed Variable GWP ODP

Ductless Split Air Conditioners 

    750 0

Rated Cooling Capacity ≤ 4.5 kW 

3.80 4.60    

4.5 kW < Rated Cooling Capacity ≤ 9.5 kW 

3.50 4.30    

9.5 kW < Rated Cooling Capacity ≤ 16.0kW 

3.20 3.90    

Self-Contained Air Conditioners 

    150 0

Rated Cooling Capacity ≤ 16.0 kW 

3.50 4.00    



Concerning refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers, their energy performance should meet or exceed the following energy consumption requirements: 


AV: adjusted volume

Reference Ambient Temperature 

Product category 

Maximum annual energy consumption (kWh/year) 












Download Rwanda national cooling strategy





[3] Rwanda Cooling Finance Initiative (RCOOL FI) market assessment. February 2020. 


[5] Rwanda National Cooling Strategy. 2019.