Govt aims to slash energy losses with new $6 million substations

The inaugurated Nzove and Gahanga substations with respective capacities of 16MW and 19MW will improve the quality of power supply in Kigali City. Courtesy.

The quality of electricity supply in Kigali is set to improve after the government unveiled two new energy substations, officials have said.

The two stations – located in Nzove and Gahanga – were launched on Thursday by Rwanda Energy Group and are each worth $3 million.

Expected to contribute to the reduction of energy losses, the facilities were developed under the support of the European Union to improve the efficiency of the national power grid.

The projects are part of a bigger venture where the government signed a 23 million Euro financing agreement with the European Union in 2015 to improve the quality of power supply in the City of Kigali.

Rwanda loses 19 per cent of the energy it produces and authorities are keen to reduce this loss to 1 per cent.

Some electricity is lost in the process of transmission, especially on long distance, a factor experts say makes the case for investment in bringing transmission stations closer to areas where power is supplied.

According to Ron Weiss, the Chief Executive Officer of REG, the project also intends to build a 27-kilometre long transmission line (110kV) linking Jabana, Mount Kigali and Gahanga, as well as upgrading three substations including Mount Kigali, Jabana and Birembo.

It is also implementing installation of 8000 smart metres to quantify losses and reactive power compensators to improve on the quality of voltage and reduce technical losses.

Speaking at the inauguration event, Weiss said that the completion of the work will not only help improve the quality of power supply in different areas of the city but also help places like Kamonyi, Muhanga and Bugesera districts.

Claver Gatete, the Minister for Infrastructure, said that the two stations are in line with the National strategy of having a 100 percent access to electricity in the country by 2024.

“We have a plan that in 2024 we will have reached 100 percent access to electricity. Now we are at 51 per cent and we think we can make it,” he said.

According to the minister, the substations are well positioned to serve important facilities like the water plant at Nzove.

“The water plant in Nzove has the capacity of up to 80,000 cubic metres but it couldn’t reach people because there wasn’t enough electricity to pump it. One of the benefits of these stations is that water will be pumped,” he said.

For the Gahanga substation, Gatete said, it will help solve the problem of insufficient electricity supply to industries like Master Steel, whose water demand is high.

Rwanda produces about 220 megawatts. It plans to add extra 70 megawatts by the end of next year.

Gatete said that the country needs 45 substations. It currently has only 21.

The government aims to achieve universal electricity access by 2024. Today, of the 51 per cent of the people who have access, 37 per cent are on grid.