The number of people connected to electricity has increased threefold over the last seven years, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has said.
Addressing members of both chambers of Parliament, yesterday, Murekezi said the number of Rwandans connected to power has increased from 10.8 per cent in 2010 to the current 34.5 per cent.
The Prime Minister was in Parliament to brief lawmakers on the state of the economy.
“Currently, we have 208.36 megawatts of hydro power and 98.68 megawatts from solar, methane gas, peat and generators. In the last seven years, we increased the energy supply from 97 megawatts in 2010 to 208.36 megawatts presently,” he said.
Murekezi said that though the Government had given itself a target of increasing energy levels to at least 563 megawatts and to supply it to 70 per cent of the population, achieving this required a whopping $3.2 billion.
“Energy generation and distribution is an extremely costly venture and the money to inject in such projects cannot be mobilised at once. For instance, to get one megawatt, it requires $4 million. Connecting one home requires $1,000 (about Rfw840,000). Of this amount, a subscriber’s contribution is only Rfw56,000, which is not even 10 per cent,” he said.
In the last seven years, the energy sector has used a budget of Rwf881.7 billion.
To fix the financing issue, the Government now partners with the private sector.
The premier also outlined several other challenges, including lack of adequate and timely reparations in areas where activities connected to energy are about to take place.
He also cited the challenge of many people living in scattered settlements, which makes it hard for the Government to collectively connect them to electricity.
Only 55.8 per cent of Rwandans live in organised settlements, commonly called Imidugudu.
MP Henriette Sebera Mukamurangwa called for investing in the youth for maintenance work as a means of cutting costs and creating more jobs.
“I am impressed by the decisions taken toward promoting the use of biogas and solar power instead of charcoal. It is an area where we should be putting more emphasis in. However, it’s an expensive venture in terms of installation and maintenance. We have the sun and we can really reap big from it and that’s why I would like to advise that short courses in installation are introduced for our youths,” she said.
MP Spéciose Mukandutiye called for sensitisation of masses on how best to use energy and cut down on wastage.
“While we should be happy about what has been achieved so far, we should also use our positions of leadership so that the energy that is available is used well. The Prime Minister has cited an issue of wastage. We should sensitise everyone about the importance of using clean energy instead of firewood to protect the environment,” she said.
MP Emmanuel Mudidi highlighted the importance of coordination during the tree planting exercise and erecting electric poles.
“There should be coordination when it comes to how trees are planted, especially on the roadsides, and how electric poles are erected because there are times when they collide and we end up having to cut the trees yet it can be avoided,” he said.
MP Berthe Mujawamariya said there was general appreciation from the locals for the connectivity, but called for harmonised budgets if more is to be achieved.
“The locals, especially upcountry, are happy that they finally have electricity. However, when you look at the performance contracts of districts, you realise that the pledges that they make in terms of electricity are very ambitious compared to the budgets of the stakeholders from the private sector, making it impossible to supply more electricity to more people,” she said.