Rwanda is banking on the Rusizi III hydro power project to increase national energy production and attract investments in the country.
The €378 million project is a joint venture between Rwanda, Burundi and DR. Congo.
The Minister of Energy, Coletha Ruhamya, hopes that the 147 MW plant will help trim the country’s energy deficit, presently estimated at 75 MW.
“We want the current cost of Rwf112 per kilo watts brought down to Rwf70,” She said, last week, at a roundtable meeting of development partners, the private sector and government representatives from the three countries held in Kigali.
It is expected to be complete by 2016, representing the first public-private sector energy engagement in the Great Lakes region that will supply electricity to Rwanda, Burundi and the DR. Congo.
The Vice President of European Investment Bank responsible for operations in Africa Caribbean and the Pacific, Plutarchos Sakellaris, said that the project will provide a framework for economic development, regional cooperation and promotion of peace.
It comes at a time when there are increasing calls for increased investments in the energy sector to attract investments that are needed to spur economic development in the Great Lakes region.
America, through the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), and China have both called for increased investments in energy, saying that it would facilitate investors to set up industries that will add value to final products produced in the region.
While China believes that by investing in energy and promoting joint ventures, Rwanda would attract Chinese investors. America argues that investment in energy is necessary for value addition to boost export receipts from Africa’s agricultural products.
Rwanda’s annual budget for energy for 2011/12 was increased by 30 per cent to Rwf98.6 billion from Rwf75.8 billion in the financial year 2010/11.
According to the Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa, the increase is meant to cater for the electricity access roll-out programme to increase access to electricity to an additional 65,000 households in all provinces and the City of Kigali.
Government intends to continue the construction of Nyabarongo power plant that will generate 28 MW as well as carrying out exploratory drilling of geothermal resources in Karisimbi.
Other projects include production of 15 MW of power from peat, procure and install an additional 10MW of thermal generators to meet a prospective shortfall in power supply and the implementation of biogas project as a substitute for charcoal.
According to Ruhamya, approximately 60 MW is expected from the Rusumo power plant, methane gas project, new hydro power plant and small power plants.
Meanwhile, the European Union-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has provided €2.8 million of grant funding for studies examining the economic soundness, environmental and social impact, water management and electricity links, and institutional strengthening of EGL.