To fix the need the ministry says combined efforts in 11 countries namely Angola, Burundi, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Sao Tomé, Chad and Rwanda could boost energy access by developing power supply interconnections in Central Africa Region.
This is expected to allow countries to export and import energy from regional countries.
The countries have a target to address extreme low rates of electrification and consequently low access to electricity, estimated at 25 per cent for the Central African region.
Germaine Kamayirese , the Minister of State in Charge of Energy, Water and Sanitation in the Ministry of Infrastructure said Rwanda is in the process of developing cross border electrification projects to benefit from the joint initiative.
She was speaking to Business Times on the sidelines of annual meeting of Central African Power Pool (PEAC) initiative established by countries of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS).
“Under cross-border electrification projects with power supply interconnections, you can build a power plant in Eastern region of the continent and supply to Southern region using modern technologies. It is in this context that Central African region states choose to pool synergy together by constructing power transmission lines so that whichever country with enough electricity generation can sell it to other neighboring country,” she said.
The minister said that the projects have already undergone the design phase.
“It benefits Rwanda as a country that needs electricity. We can buy electricity from neighbouring countries or sell to other countries through cross border transmission lines. There are different projects in these Central African Region countries and also Rwanda has a project that makes part of this region dubbed ‘RUSIZI III’ shared between Rwanda, DR Congo and BURUNDI,” she said.
The RUSIZI III project is expected to generate 145 MW.
“This is the power production project that will also connect to other neighbouring countries in Central Africa. Being in such a pool of energy, we will be able to interconnect transmission line of RUSIZI III with other countries, “she added.
Jean Chrisostome Mekondongo, the Permanent secretary at Central Africa Power Pool said that the Rwanda’s project is part of priority integration projects.
“Today we do not yet have any projects physically implemented among those priority integration projects. It is the process of implementation that is to be implemented in coming days. There are about 20 projects that are of priority integration and 10 cross-border electrification projects,” he said.
The first project to be realised in next three years is the interconnection electrical network from Cameroon to Chad with transmission line of 2,500 km to electrify over 2500 villages.
Central Africa region has been said to have huge reserves of renewable energy resources such as hydro, solar, wind energy, geothermal as well as non-renewables like thermal, peat, coal which are technically and financially viable
Experts under the Central Africa States’ initiative have shown that Central Africa’s hydropower potential is estimated at 150,000 MW, equivalent to 58 per cent of the African continent’s potential.
Amb. Claver Gatete, the Minister of Infrastructure said that through the development of Central Africa’s abundant renewable energy resources Africa has the potential to build a truly green economy considering that that 23% of industry demand can be met by modern renewable energy technologies.
Africa Renewable Energy initiative
Africa Renewable Energy Initiative with initial investment of $10 billion was established during COP21 when Paris agreement was adopted.
According to Amb. Seyni Nafo, the Interim Director of Independent Delivery Unity at Africa Renwable Energy Initiative, the initiative could support 450 projects that could deliver 50,000 MW for African countries.
“Countries including Rwanda among those eleven in Central African region can pitch to us their priority projects. We have started dialogue and we have so far seen that there are over 15 projects that are already their priority that need funds. We are going to work together to mobilize funds, find partners and donors, seek financing innovative solutions, and use green bonds or public private partnership,” he said.
Some challenges to be addressed by the initiative include regulatory framework, finance to reduce risks in production projects, stable political environment to business, capacity of governments, private sector and regulatory bodies to implement the policies.