KIGALI - The national electricity access programme roundtable meeting in Kigali, yesterday, saw government and donors commit to developing the country’s energy sector.
The government and its development partners raised about US$ 228 million in “new pledges” – over 95 percent of the remaining US$ 240 million required for the five-year programme meant to see access to electricity significantly improved nation-wide.
Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, earlier while presiding over the opening session of the meeting, stressed that this was an “important exercise” for Rwanda since it presents an opportunity to review accomplishments and challenges in enhanced investment in sustainable energy.
“If we are to achieve our long-term vision for socio-economic transformation, affordable and adequate supply of energy has to be a key priority,” Makuza had noted.
The Premier also stressed that the present challenge “in terms of access to electricity” is evident, with “only about six percent of our households and businesses” having access to electricity.
“In light of this fact, efforts to achieve our objective – improving lives of our people to the level of a middle income country by 2020 will have to be stepped up significantly.”
He underscored that Rwanda has set the target of connecting 350,000 homes by the year 2012.
After the Premier’s opening remarks, participants embarked on progress presentations, development partner consultations and a pledging round that saw the $228m raised.
Participants, including World Bank (WB) Country Manager Victoria Kwakwa, were pleased with the outcome.
“The World Bank is very happy to be partnering with Rwanda in the energy sector that we all acknowledge is critical in achieving the development objectives that Rwanda has set itself,” she noted.
“I am very glad we have a government partner that is very bold and brave in tackling the challenges that Rwanda faces.”
Kwakwa, on behalf of the WB, pledged $70m which will be disbursed starting “early July this year” until June 2012 and, indicated “additional resources” to a tune of $8.3 for technical assistance support.
While chairing the final part of the roundtable, Finance Minister James Musoni noted that government too, “on behalf of our taxpayers” was pledging US$ 40 million.
Water and Electricity public utility, Electrogaz, also pledged “about” $27m.
“We at Electrogaz are greatly encouraged by this show of support and basically add effort in what we started a few years ago,” said Electrogaz Managing Director John Mirenge.
An upbeat Mirenge also vowed that Electrogaz will ensure that the programme “runs very transparently” and, stressed that accountability will be high on agenda to ensure that the money goes to the right place and doing what it was meant to do.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) country representative, Jacob Diko Mukete, while reading the closing government-donor joint statement underlined that development partners re-affirm support for the government’s efforts in the energy sector.
“In light of the high and sustained investments of the programme and financing requirements for technical assistance and implementation, the partners agreed that every effort should be advanced to seek ways and means of lowering unit connection costs over the programme period,” Mukete read.
According to a current study, over 60 percent of the population live within a range of five kilometres of the existing electricity network with 110,000 total connections (6%).
Projections for the year 2012 are 16 percent connections while by 2020, 35 percent of the population will be connected.