Rwandan student looks to a future in biomass energy

Herve-Christian Sheja Kabanda
Age: 19
Home: Nyamirambo, Kigali, Rwanda
Major: Natural Resource Sciences
Hobbies: Hanging out with friends and photography
Favorite saying: “Every thing that I am doing, I have to be a man.”

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Looking for a way to help society in Rwanda, 19-year-old Herve-Christian Sheja Kabanda, is studying at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in order to work in his country’s energy sector.

Sheja Kabanda used to make money in his hometown of Nyamirambo in Kigali, creating wedding videos and taking photographs of teenagers dancing.

Now he hangs out with friends and spends his school time focusing on the study of energy, with the goal of entering Rwanda’s biomass industry.

Biomass energy makes up 85 percent of the Rwanda’s energy use and is used for cooking and other basic energy needs. However, it has increased deforestation and created an energy deficit. Although this is a problem, it has given students like Sheja Kabanda an opportunity to use their degree to solve real-world problems.

Sheja Kabanda said he intends to return to Rwanda for a few years before returning back to the United States to pursue a doctorate. After, completing grad school, Sheja Kabanda wants to move back to Rwanda to find a career.

Although Sheja Kabanda will be highly educated in energy development when his schooling is done in the United States, finding a job in Rwanda will be difficult. He said being at UNL puts him back four years from people his age in Rwanda who are able to begin working.

For now, Sheja Kabanda is not dwelling on his future too much. He is focusing on living up to the to his father’s ideals, which they discuss every time they talk. One of the concepts he’s learned from his father is that admitting to mistakes and facing the consequences will lead him on a brighter path than trying to hide from failure.

“The good thing is to learn a lesson from your mistakes,” he said. “You can become a better man from making too many mistakes.”

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