Mininfra on the spot over failing energy projects

A parliamentary standing committee on Thursday expressed frustration over six micro hydropower plants that operate below capacity or failed altogether.
 State minister for Energy and Water Emma Francoise Isumbingabo (L), together with Alfred Rwaka, the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on political affairs during....
State minister for Energy and Water Emma Francoise Isumbingabo (L), together with Alfred Rwaka, the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on political affairs during....

A parliamentary standing committee on Thursday expressed frustration over six micro hydropower plants that operate below capacity or failed altogether.

Chaired by MP Alfred Rwaka, the standing committee on political affairs which is currently reviewing the 2012-13 Ombudsman’s report had summoned the State minister in charge of Water and Energy, in the Ministry of Infrastructure (Mininfra) Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, to explain why government was incurring losses on some power projects while others were failing or producing below capacity.

The six micro power plants that drew the lawmakers’ attention are Mukungwa expected to produce 2.5 MW, Nshili 400 KW, Nyabahanga 200 KW, Gashashi 200 KW, Janja 200 KW and Nyirabuhombohombo 500 KW.

The construction of the projects commenced in 2006 but up to today, none of them has  produced power at its optimal capacity.

“The failure of some of these projects is attributed to the initial contractor, Hydropower International (HPI) who failed to deliver in time. HPI’s contract was later nullified and replaced with another contractor who had to deal with all the substandard work that HPI left behind,” said the minister.

She added that the reason why the plants are not producing to their expected capacity is because they are off-grid plants, implying that they can only produce power that is consumed instantly.

“Initially we thought there would be factories consuming the power but we have now embarked on sensitising people neighbouring the plants to exploit this resource as much as possible,” Isumbingabo told  the MPs.

However Ntare Karitanyi, the director general of Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), said several projects fail mainly due to poor planning.

“There is no way you can expect returns in an energy project initiated without doing research. That is what happened with these projects. People just installed them without a clear plan. Today we are trying to see how we can connect these plants to the grid for efficient management,” he said.

According to the state minister, by June 2015, about 95MW will be added to the national grid. Currently Rwanda produced 110 megawatts and targets more than 500MW by 2017.

 

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