In a bid to improve electricity service delivery, Rwanda Energy Group (REG) is in advanced rehabilitation and upgrading activities of the distribution network across the City of Kigali.
The evolving move comes into force to address power-related issues and enhance power supply in the community with a fast-growing economy and demography towards better power service delivery in the city.
The activities, which are underway since August 2016, are being implemented by Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL), a subsidiary company of REG, under a three-year project dubbed ‘Reinforcement of Kigali Distribution Network”
The Rwf30billion project planned into three phases focuses on the rehabilitation and upgrade of 24 Medium Voltage (MV) switching substations which will be key to reinforce power supply across the city;
The first phase which is few inches to completion has seen six switch substations built at six important zones in the city, namely Kicukiro in IPRC replacing the old , known as Pylon 20, Centre Christus Remera, Mumena, Rubungo (near Kigali Special Economic Zone), Rugende and Kacyiru.
So far, three switching substations were completed. They include Mumena, Centre Christus Remera, Rugende and Kicukiro known as Pylon 20, while the remaining two substations will be ready to function in the next two weeks.
These switching substations will serve to instantly identify and isolate a small portion of network affected by a fault while keeping other section of the network operational.
Pylon 20, one of the completed switch substations, will be transferring electricity from Gikondo power Source to Niboye, Kagarama, Gatenga, Gahanga, Amahoro Stadium, through Centre Christus, Kigali International Airport and Gasogi.
William Bihoyiki, the Acting. Chief Engineer Standards and Projects at the Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) said the project will help the energy body to better serve the community with reliable power supply.
“The switching substations being set will help in quick maintenance thanks to their automatic system that helps in detecting areas that appear to have power issues while less time will be taken for maintenance than before,” he said.
In the second phase, which already started in July last year, 10 more switch substations will be built in parallel with the upgrade of three Medium Voltage lines, One in the City Centre, The other from KBC to Centre Christus in Remera and The last from Gikondo to KBC. The purpose is to replace the cables with bigger size of cables in order to increase the transmission capability of the network and meet the increasing electricity demand in Kigali. The third phase’s construction activities of 8 switch substations, to be started by the beginning of 2019.
All these new switch substations being set up are made with a communication system that will allow the technical team at the National Electricity Control Centre in Gikondo figure out at which electrical network the problem lies once power issues arise for emergency maintenance.
This is a connectivity system that will replace the old one which has been causing challenges for years because with the old electrical switching system the technical team was supposed to disconnect the whole electrical network during the maintenance activities in case a power issue was happening in one single zone.
“Previously, when a power cut happened in one area, more zones would be affected and a big number of people had to run out of power for a while. The new switching substations will help to immediately identify which exact area has power issues and make sure no more areas are affected at all,” Bihoyiki said.
Bihoyiki revealed, before the switch substations were established, it would take the technical team between 10 minutes and an hour, or so, to identify the area with power issues. But, as along as the switching substations are put in place, only seconds will be enough to figure out the incident scene for instant maintenance.
To ensure that no power cut incidents happen during the upgrading and rehabilitation activities, three mobile Switching substations were brought in to provide support to some switch substations which are under construction or maintenance so that no area is affected with power cut at all.
A few weeks ago, Rwanda Energy Group announced during a press conference that among the reforms put in place to ease doing business in Rwanda, include the upgrade of the existing distribution network to ensure reliability of power supply and reduce the power loss. The objective is to consistently reduce the duration and frequency of power cuts for each customer served.