Like most developing countries, Rwanda uses wood fuels as a source of energy.
It is estimated that 92 per cent of the total primary energy supply in Rwanda is from firewood, charcoal, and agricultural residues.
This is likely to remain so in the near or even medium term since the substitutes like imported petroleum fuels or grid electricity is beyond the reach of most households.
Even in the urban areas such as Kigali with access to petroleum fuels and electricity, the households depend on charcoal for their thermal energy needs.
State Minister in Charge of Energy and Communication Eng. Albert Butare says the per capita electricity consumption in the country is among the lowest in the world.
Kigali alone accounts for nearly two thirds of the total electricity consumption, and all urban areas together comprise about 99 per cent of the total.
A report from the Infrastructure ministry indicates that the total number of registered electricity consumers is only about 77,000, and most of them at low-voltage (LV) level.
“Rather unusual for a small, developing country to find more than a half of the LV customers are on pre-payment meters known as Cash Power” the report reads in part.
The minister said metered and cash power electricity sales in the country have been growing at about 7 percent a year on average since 1997, and could have been higher but the country still faces supply constraints.
Outside the urban areas, wood fuels are nearly the sole thermal energy source for households and most of the commercial/industrial establishments.
The report says on average, household use 1.8 tonnes of wood fuel annually.
Source of power in Rwanda
Rwanda’s domestic power generation capacity is estimated at 29 MW. Most of it is from the Ntaruka and Mukungwa power plants.
The Mukungwa station is supplied draws water from a Lake Ruhondo while Ntaruka station gets supply from Lake Burera.
Rwanda also purchases power from the Rusizi I plant (3.5 MW) (Democratic Republic of Congo DRC, and Rusizi II (12 MW), owned by SINELAC, which is jointly owned by DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi.
The Rusizi River flows from Lake Kivu which forms part of Rwanda’s border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Finance and Economic Planning minister James Musoni says the energy budget has increased by 60.4 percent in the 2008 Budget compared to last year.
“Last year’s budget on energy sector was Frw26.5 billion but now it is Frw42.5 billion,” he said.
He said that the aim of increasing funding for the energy sector is to finance construction of 8 Micro-hydro projects and financing for electricity transmission.
To meet their target of vision 2020 in energy sector, further spending will be put in rental power and subsidies as well as financing for the methane gas projects.
Electrogaz’s Managing Director John Mirenge said that they are planning to cut power and water tariffs.
Currently water tariffs are 240/5m3 while power tariffs are 112/kwh.
“We are still looking for cheaper sources of power like thermo, methane, and biogas and geothermal. Our hydro electricity capacity production is still not enough. So we can’t talk about future prices now,” Mirenge said.
However, Pacific Rugina, the head of marketing in Electrogaz says they are confident Rwanda’s Vision 2020 on power will be achieved. He said currently 4.5 percent of Rwandan population is connected to electricity.
“Due to our new power projects in place, I think we shall even exceed the target percentage of 35 percent.
By 2010-11 we are planning to connect more than 10 per cent of our population”, Rugina said
The largest solar plant in Africa was inaugurated in Kigali in June 2007 with a capacity to produce 250 KW. Also a number of solar systems are being installed in remote areas to power health centers, schools and local administrative offices.
Rukarara (9.5 MW) hydro power plant works have started and will be in operation by mid 2009.
A contract has been signed with Wartsila for the installation of 20MW heavy fuel oil generators to be on grid end of 2008
Micro hydro power projects (MHPP) in remote areas are going on. At least 10.0MW are to be produced.
These include: 6 MHPP under public private partnership. The Dutch Government will contribute 50 percent of the funding while private companies pay 50 per cent of the cost.
Three MHPP financed by Belgium Government, 8 MHPP financed by the Government of Rwanda are under construction.
About 10 MHPP are to be financed by Belgium in their Phase II.
The Nyabarongo HPP to produce 27.5 MW is also in the pipeline. Its financing is being negotiated with Indian Exim Bank. The construction works are expected to start by next year.
Regional Hydro Projects that are under consideration at Rusumo Falls (62 MW), Rusizi III RD (82MW), Rusizi III sisi5 (205 MW)
The national domestic biogas programme where 15,000 domestic bio digesters are projected to be built by the year 2011.
A contract to build 100 digesters was signed and the construction works are ongoing.
Rwanda in partnership with Kenya Petroleum Company is planning to build a new oil storage facility of 70,000 cubic meters in Kigali.