Invest in off-grid, renewable energy solutions, say experts

Energy experts have called for strong public-private sector partnerships and more investments to boost off-grid and renewable energy solutions.
Daniel Gizaw, the chief executive of Ventus Technologies (R), showcases Smart Electric Meters to Minister Musoni (L) and Germaine Kamayirese, the minister of state for energy, water and sanitation (C), at the iPAD expo in Kigali yesterday. (Doreen Umutesi)
Daniel Gizaw, the chief executive of Ventus Technologies (R), showcases Smart Electric Meters to Minister Musoni (L) and Germaine Kamayirese, the minister of state for energy, water and sanitation (C), at the iPAD expo in Kigali yesterday. (Doreen Umutesi)

Energy experts have called for strong public-private sector partnerships and more investments to boost off-grid and renewable energy solutions.

They argue that more investments in renewable energy will increase Rwanda’s energy generation capacity and connectivity, which will, in turn, translate into a faster and more sustainable economic growth.

The experts from more than 20 countries were speaking during a two-day iPAD Rwanda Power and Infrastructure Investment forum, which opened in Kigali yesterday.

The conference is being held under the theme, “Boosting private investment for national infrastructure and industrial development,” with more than 200 energy experts, investors, credit providers and policy-makers in attendance.

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(L-R ) Germaine Kamayirese the Minister of State in Charge of Energy, Water and Sanitation, Jean Bosco Mugiraneza CEO Rwanda Energy Group and Minister James Musoni during an IPAD press briefing yesterday at Serena Hotel.

Abel Didier Tella, the director-general of Association of Power Utilities of Africa in Ivory Coast, called for countries to invest in renewable energy as the most effective way to increase the continent’s power supply.

“Governments in Africa must encourage and ensure that investors are investing more into off-grid projects to increase connectivity,” he said.

“We must equally encourage the private sector to find ways and cut the red tape and take the lead infrastructure development projects.”

Issa Dione, director of Large Generation projects, Senelec, Senegal, said “investing in off-grid alternatives like solar and wind energy will unlock Africa’s potential to achieve sustainable economic growth.”

Rwanda’s installed power generation capacity stands at 161.2MW, against a target of 563MW by 2018. The country is also targeting to increase connectivity to more than 70 per cent of the population by the same time.

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Panelists at the Rwanda Power Infrastructure Investment two-day Forum that kicked  off yesterday at Serena Hotel.

For this to happen, Namira Negm, the Egyptian ambassador to Rwanda, believes the country must engage and encourage its private sector to participate in power generation and distribution and support renewable energy schemes.

“We need to encourage sovereign guarantees and concessional loans will equally lure more investors into the sector,” Amb. Negm said.

Currently, the country’s hydro electricity generation capacity accounts for 97.37MW, thermal power at 51.7MW, methane 3.6MW, while 8.75MW is produced from energy solar.

Overall, the national power generation capacity is expected to increase by 61.5MW by end of the year when projects such as Kivuwatt (25MW), Gishoma Peat Plant (15MW) and Giggawatt Solar Power Plant (8.5MW), are added to the national grid.

Other efforts to increase power supply include importing 30MW from Kenya – expected by the end of the year – and another 400MW from Ethiopia by 2018.

The government has allocated Rwf135 billion this financial year toward the energy sector to increase electricity supply to spur industrial growth, especially targeted for the free trade zone and the country’s electricity rollout plan.

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Erica Barks Ruggles (L)the US Ambassador to Rwanda chats with Minister Musoni after the official opening of IPAD. (All photos by Doreen Umutesi)

Establishing one-stop centre

Meanwhile, the experts called on the government to establish a one-stop centre that will help link investors with realities on the ground as well as encourage more public-private sector partnerships in energy generation
James Musoni, the minister for infrastructure, said government has in place a new strategy to attract more private sector investments.

Musoni said the idea is to allow and facilitate the private sector to take the leading role in power generation while government concentrates on building a more sustainable network.

“We need a lot of energy and we cannot support it alone, that is why we are encouraging public private sector partnerships as one of the strategies to meet our targets,” he said.

Musoni added that government is well aware of a more reliable and affordable power a reason they are encouraging these partnerships.

To meet the required demand of electricity, government plans to invest about $3 billion dollars into the sector with the private sector expected to invest about $1.3 billion.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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