Micro-projects are the solution to energy shortage

Editor, the solution to power shortage in Rwanda should not be exclusively expected from big investment projects. I believe that small but multiple small initiatives, if well managed through an adequate policy framework, can expeditiously overcome the power shortage problem.
Workers instal a solar panel on a building in Kigali. (File)
Workers instal a solar panel on a building in Kigali. (File)

Editor,

RE: “Over 200 infrastructure investors for Kigali forum” (The New Times, November 2).

The solution to power shortage in Rwanda should not be exclusively expected from big investment projects. I believe that small but multiple small initiatives, if well managed through an adequate policy framework, can expeditiously overcome the power shortage problem.

I will give a clear example.

Most households in Rwanda use between 1.5 and 3 KW per day (refer to your power bill). Using solar system to produce 3 KW per day requires a total investment of around US$3,000 to US$3,500, and if we consider the lifespan of different equipment used as well as maintenance cost of the system, the average annual expenses for such renewable and inexhaustible power system—if well managed—is around US$300/year (Rwf18,500/month, considering the maximum of 3 KW/day).

Imagine what we can do if 10,000 potential investors investing US$9,000, which is possible for most of middle- or high-income earners in Rwanda. If this system is on-grid, and a win-win agreement with Rwanda Energy Group (REG) is signed to purchase their 6 KW excess of power production per day, this would allow production of 60 MW per day.

Benefits are numerous: job creation, culture of self-reliance promoted, domestic investment, power shortage issue tackled, green country and environment protection, easy and quick to implement, shared production and risk of major shortage reduced in case of one of few of the 10,000 producing systems are defective.

We really need to think differently and to get new adequate solutions to this issue of power shortage other than traditional hydro-power plants which are no longer reliable because of climate change and repetitive droughts, or kerosene-powered generators which highly pollute our environment, or very big power plants whose investments are very huge and difficult to secure at once.

I challenge the Ministry of Infrastructure and REG to dig deeper in this direction and I am quite sure that the solution is here rather than the current way of doing things.

JC Rukundo

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Dear Mr. Rukundo, on behalf of the event organizing team, I thank you for the detailed comment.

This is the calibre of open dialogue this initiative needs, as the overall goal is sustainable generation capacity, but the added value of “job creation, culture of self-reliance, domestic investment, green and environment protection” must be raised by Rwandan experts, community leaders with the ministry, utility, private partners and delegates present.

The mentality of Umuganda must be incorporated.

Thabo Khoza

 

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