70 per cent households will have power by 2017 – EWSA

The power utility has of late been under fire for not providing adequate power to people connected onto the national electricity grid. This has made many consumers angry, accusing the utility firm of being hell bent to fail people’s businesses. But the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) has not taken the blame lightly and has sought partnerships to boost its service delivery and efficiency.

The power utility has of late been under fire for not providing adequate power to people connected onto the national electricity grid. This has made many consumers angry, accusing the utility firm of being hell bent to fail people’s businesses. But the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) has not taken the blame lightly and has sought partnerships to boost its service delivery and efficiency.

Through its partnership with the international arm of the Tunisian Electricity and Gas Agency, EWSA hopes to distribute electricity cheaply, using low cost materials.

This, thanks to the new power distribution technology acquired from their partnership with the Tunisians that the utility hopes would help increase access to electricity by up to 70 per cent by 2017.

Earlier, the government had targeted connecting 50 per cent households to electricity by 2017, with a keen eye on the methane gas project on Lake Kivu.

The revised target seems to emphasise the government’s resolve to ensure all Rwandans have access to affordable power.

To achieve its revised target, EWSA began a seven-year plan last year to develop new hydropower plants delivering about 232MW, new geothermal power plants with capacity of 310MW, tap peat resources to deliver 200MW on top of methane gas that will deliver 350MW.

The authority also seeks to strengthen and expand the transmission lines by an additional 2100km.

Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, the water and energy state minister, revealed this during a workshop on appropriate distribution system for electricity to all at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali recently.

Isumbingabo acknowledged that one of the major challenges to the economy is was ensuring that each person accesses energy at affordable rates.

To overcome this challenge, the government has come up with many initiatives to boost energy generation, as well as energy distribution which will enhance economic and social development,” she said.

According to Dieudone Ndizihiwe, the director of energy, implementing the new low cost system would enable them increase access to electricity to 70 per cent by 2017.

Today, about 16 per cent of households have power, up from 4.5 per cent in 2008.

Ndizihiwe said the utility was also targeting to connect all health centres, schools and sector administrative offices in the country.

“Previously, the sector faced problems of high cost of medium voltage transformer sub-stations and malfunctioning equipments,” he explained.

“EWSA is aiming to adequately use low-cost distribution technology to build a safe, reliable, efficient, cheaper network.”

Ndizihiwe said the first phase of a 50km line had started in Nyagatare district in Rukomo, Mimuri, Nyarurema and Karama sectors and would take six months to complete.

The second phase would involve extension of the power line to six districts in the Eastern Province. He said the 150km line would take 18 months to complete.

Contour Global, a Canadian firm, is so far the only firm exploring for methane gas in Lake Kivu to set up a 100MW power plant. However, Rwanda Development Board said there was still room for more companies to join the venture.

“Contour Global will be providing the first phase of 25MW by August. There is also an upcoming opportunity for the development of additional 50MW, through a competitive process,” Vivian Kayitesi, the Rwanda Development Board head of investment promotion and implementation unit, told Business Times in an earlier interview.

“The investor will be expected to design, finance, build, operate and own the 50MW methane-to-power plant. We hope it will attract a number of investors,” Kayitesi noted.

Methane gas extraction for power production has over the years received keen interest from investors, the most recent being an Oman company, MB Holding Company.

The country produces about 110MW currently, but has plans to massively boost its power grid.

 

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