US energy firm makes case for FDIs in Rwanda

Symbion power, one of the leading partners in US President Barrack Obama's 'Power Africa' initiative that aims to double access to electricity on the continent, has said it has 'arrived' in Rwanda to actualise the pledge.
A powerline connecting rural households in Kayonza District. (File)
A powerline connecting rural households in Kayonza District. (File)

Symbion power, one of the leading partners in US President Barrack Obama’s ‘Power Africa’ initiative that aims to double access to electricity on the continent, has said it has ‘arrived’ in Rwanda to actualise the pledge.

The American energy investment firm was in August awarded a deal to invest in a 50MW Independent Power Production (IPP) project using methane gas from Lake Kivu by the Rwanda Energy Group (Reg) during the US-Africa Heads of State Summit in Washington, DC.

Paul Hinks, an official with Symbion Power, said other American investors should follow suit and exploit energy investment opportunities in African countries such as Rwanda.

“Frankly speaking, we need to move away from talking about Africa and start talking about individual countries because there are 54 of them and they each have their own identity,” Hinks  said.

“Rwanda is one of the best examples on the continent with incredible leadership and has warmed itself to the investor community.”

Time frame

In four months, the firm says it will have completed the engineering works and relevant studies on the project before entering a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Within 15 months, the project is expected to produce 15MW of power and will increase production progressively until the full 50MW with plans to expand beyond.

The development has excited several international development partners that have been working in Africa for a long time such as USAID whose Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah applauded Symbion for choosing Rwanda.

“We are very excited that with President Obama’s recent announcement of tripling Power Africa’s goals to now add 30,000 megawatts to sub-Saharan Africa, partners such as Symbion Power are exploring new opportunities in countries like Rwanda where they have never worked before,” Shah said.

“Through this new model of public-private partnership, we can expand opportunity for millions and drive growth at home and abroad.”

Symbion has also announced it will be one of the main sponsors of the upcoming iPAD Rwanda Forum, which will gather investors, project developers, finance, housing and construction and planning companies from Rwanda, the region and rest of the world.

The Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni, is expected to lead a government delegation at the forum scheduled for November 2 to 4 in Kigali.

Symbion says it has been targeting energy investments in Rwanda for long and that their methane deal is the first successful venture that they hope will be the first of many more ventures to come.

“We will be extracting methane gas from 1000 feet in the lake using it to generate the much needed electricity, it’s not the first project of its kind but it’s the largest so far,” Hinks said.

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