KIGALI - The State Minister in Charge of Energy and Water, Eng. Colette Ruhamya, has urged East African countries to prioritize investment in the energy sector and facilitate easy access to electricity, to enable sustainable economic growth in the region.
Addressing an international workshop on the access to electricity and development of local industries in Africa, yesterday, Ruhamya highlighted that access to electricity is an important development indicator.
“The indicator mostly used to measure the level of a country’s development is the electricity access rate,” the minister said.
“It is clear that our continent has the lowest per capita modern energy consumption in the world. However, I remain optimistic that solutions exist and are available if we share ideas and cooperate.”
She revealed that Rwanda strongly believes in the power of collaboration with other African countries, and that it is involved in numerous interconnection projects with several neighbouring countries through regional organizations.
“We have signed another protocol on collaboration in the energy sector with our sister country Tunisia. Our two electricity companies have already started a program of collaboration that could serve as a shining example to the continent,” Ruhamya added.
The Managing Director of Rwanda Electricity Corporation (RECO), Yves Muyange, revealed that Rwanda had emerged from the energy crisis that hit Africa a few years ago and had achieved great results from the energy sector.
“The initial crisis was about supply constraints – simply put, not enough energy to meet demand,” Muyange said. “RECO’s customer base has grown from a mere 30,000 customers in (2004) to 148,000 by the end of March 2010.”
He said that RECO is currently implementing the National Electricity Roll-out Access Programme, designed to meet a target of connecting 350,000 households by 2012.
“I am sure there will be successes and challenges to share. Let us absorb these lessons as we re-energize to “Light” the continent and fight the common negative reference of being the “Dark Continent,” Muyange said.
The seminar was organized by the ministry of infrastructure (MININFRA), Rwanda Electricity Corporation (RECO) and the Union des producteurs et Distributeurs d’Electricité en Afrique (UPDEA).
The meeting attracted officials from the ministries in charge of energy in the East African Region, global financiers and major manufacturers of electricity utilities.