Loocal energy firm East African Power has entered into a joint venture with its Canadian counterpart Afritech Energy to set up hydropower plants in Rubavu and Rutsiro districts.
The venture will see four hydropower plants constructed in Bihongora, Karambo II, Gatare-Sebeya and Muregeya.
Bihongora Hydropower project is located on Bihongora River in Kanama Sector, while Karambo II Hydropower Project is on Karambo River in Rubavu District.
Gatare-Sebeya Hydropower Project will channel water from both the Gatare and the Sebeya Rivers and will combine these flows into one powerhouse at their convergence.
The project is located in Kanombe Sector, Rutsiro District, in the Western Province.
Muregeya Cascades Hydropower Project will include four separate hydropower plants along the Muregeya River in Mushubati and Mukura Sectors in Rutsiro District.
Bihongora (5.3MW) and Karambo II (0.7MW) will both begin by mid-2016, according to officials, while Gatare-Sebeya (1.3MW) and the first of the Muregeya Cascades (4.2MW) projects will begin later in 2016.
Announcing the project dubbed, “Empowering Villages,” in Kigali on Tuesday, Dan Munkittrick, the chairperson of East African Power, said it is estimated to cost $40 million (about Rwf 29 billion).
East African Power made an initial commitment of $500,000 (about Rwf367 million) to the hydropower projects expected to produce 11megawatts upon completion.
“We invest in villages because we want them empowered economically. Rwanda has a vision for change, a vision that is aimed at transforming the lives of citizens. This is our opportunity, too, and it’s not for just making financial profits but to transform lives,” Munkittrick said.
“Our model beneficiaries are children, rural women and to improve the social impact. We are here because we know that increase in power generation will enable development in the community. That’s why we call it empowering villages.”
Rwanda seeks to generate 563 megawatts by 2017 up from the current 160 megawatts installed capacity.
Afritech Energy chief executive Bonaventure Gapitene said the investment comes as a result of government’s initiative to extend incentives in the energy sector and other sectors that are critical to making the country a private sector-led economy by 2020.
“We are partnering with the government to achieve the set targets in energy sector. The partnership involves two passionate companies that wish to be part of this country’s development, given that the government has also made it easy for the investor to do business here,” he said.
According to Gapitene, negotiations are ongoing and construction works should take at least 18 months.
The executive chair of Afritech Energy, Dan Klinck, reiterated that electricity would entice entrepreneurship upcountry and eventually see more microbusinesses grow.
“Those businesses will generate jobs, incomes, and skills and improve livelihood. Beyond energy generation, we envision libraries, schools and laboratories through energy generation and distribution. Energy connectivity empowers all,” said Klinck.
Afritech Energy is a Canadian-Rwandan joint energy development venture that provides a range of engineering, procurement and construction services across the energy sector.
Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, the chief executive of Rwanda Energy Group (REG), told The New Times, yesterday, that the utility is in negotiation with Afritech Energy and for a power purchase agreement for the first two Bihongora and Karambo II projects.
“This initiative is a testimony of the government’s drive to encourage private sector in energy development.
There is goodwill from stakeholders,” said Mugiraneza.