Why power importation delay won't affect national targets

In 2014, government sealed a five-year contract with Kenya through the country’s power distributor Rwanda Energy Group (REG). According to the deal, Rwanda was to pay $14 cents (Rwf50) per kilowatt of power imported and have the contract reviewed after every two years.
Govt is counting on Kivuwatt power project to boost generation capacity. File
Govt is counting on Kivuwatt power project to boost generation capacity. File

In 2014, government sealed a five-year contract with Kenya through the country’s power distributor Rwanda Energy Group (REG). According to the deal, Rwanda was to pay $14 cents (Rwf50) per kilowatt of power imported and have the contract reviewed after every two years.

The deal was according to energy experts going to be a big boost to Rwanda’s power needs.

 
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Rwanda was supposed to import 30MW by the end of last year. File

According to the timeframe, the 30 MW was expected in the country by end of 2015. However, 3 years after the agreement was signed, there is no sign of this power from Kenya.

 

More so, Rwanda also plans to import 400MW of power from Ethiopia by 2018, a move aimed at increasing electricity supply in the country, especially for industrial use.

 

However, this can only happen if northern corridor states move fast to modernize and upgrade the existing infrastructure to accommodate additional volts.

Sources at the Ministry of Infrastructure had earlier revealed to this publication that government was considering pulling out from the project due to the delays and frustrations surrounding the project.

Speaking to Business Times last week, Claver Gatete Minister of Finance and Economic Planning down played reports which had earlier indicated that government was pulling out of the deal after being frustrated by its neighbours within northern corridor.

Although Minister Gatete acknowledged delays, he said government was still pursuing the project but could not tell when exactly the power will finally reach Kigali.

“Each country was supposed to work on their part to be able to support the project, but there have been some delays in terms of modernizing the infrastructure. We are however still in touch with our partners to try to expedite the project,” Gatete said.

The minister said government still has other options if the delay persists including attracting more investors into the energy sector, and investing in other alternatives including off grid solutions.

The Rwanda Energy Group (REG) chief executive officer, Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, said Rwanda had played its part and was therefore awaiting its neighbors to do their part.

“The projects to import power are still very much alive and we are discussing with our counterparts to see how we can have them expedited. We are trying to see how we can harmonize our standards and infrastructure, however we at the same time recognize that these are huge projects that require a lot of resources and time,” Mugiraneza said adding that Rwanda had done its part including completing works including the 220kv Mirama–Shango line, which covers 98km.

The energy group is also working on Shango–Rubavu–Bwishyura–Karongi transmission that will cover 180km between Rwanda and the DR Congo.

“We are working on interconnection lines to allow power trade in the region, but also to speed up domestic power transmission projects already underway so as to increase power dispatch, he said.

Power transmission lines being constructed to supply local users include the 10kV Rukarara–Kilinda line and the 110kV Ntendezi–Bugarama that will cover 17.5km.

Mugiraneza said importation delays will not in any way stop the country from meeting its power targets.

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Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, REG chief.

“The power sector is not like any other sector, we always must align supply with demand; and the good news is that we are currently meeting the demand, so the delays in terms of importation will not affect our targets,” he said.

Another project in the pipeline, he said, is the Rusomo Hydro Power project shared by Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, expected to generate 80MW while the Gisagara peat to power project is expected to generate 80MW.

In terms of the power supply network, Mugiraneza asserts that, Government is in advanced stages of partnering with the European Union to renovate Jabana and Mont Kigali power substations in Kigali City so that more electricity is distributed to Bugesera District.

In addition, the construction of a new power substation in Gahanga sector in Kicukiro district will commence as soon as the surrounding community has been expropriated.

Another project in the pipeline is funded by the World Bank and the Government of Rwanda to renovate Kigali City Network to improve supply reliability and boost economic activity.

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Workers during a maintenance routine at a power sub-station. File

In other supply improvement initiatives, REG officials confirmed that, with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a new substation will be constructed in Ndera Sector, Gasabo district to supply electricity to the neighboring Kigali Special Economic Zone and other parts of Kigali while in Gabiro, Gatsibo district, a substation will be constructed to address power shortage in the Eastern Province.

Rwanda currently has an installed power generation capacity of 208 MW. The country hopes to increase this to 563MW by 2018 to improve access to electricity, especially in the rural areas.

Over the last 7 years, more efforts in the energy sector have been directed towards diversified and balanced power production and supply to meet the national targets. As a result, electricity generation capacity has increased almost three-fold from 76MW in 2010 to 208MW in January 2017.

This has enabled a rapid increase in electricity access whereby grid connections through the Electricity Access Rollo-out Programme (EARP) increased 3 times from 2010 to 2016. Accordingly, the national electricity access rates increased from 10.8% in 2010 to the current 28% on grid and 3% off-grid.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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