Cooking gas costs to reduce this year

KIGALI - Beginning this year, government is set to introduce incentives for importers of cooking gas, by reducing its levies on the product to make it affordable for many Rwandans.
John Mirenge.
John Mirenge.

KIGALI - Beginning this year, government is set to introduce incentives for importers of cooking gas, by reducing its levies on the product to make it affordable for many Rwandans.

This was revealed Tuesday by John Mirenge, the Managing Director of Electrogaz, the national energy and water utility during a telephone interview.

Experts consider gas to be the most efficient and low cost cooking energy but its prices in Rwanda are far too high compared to prices in regional countries like Tanzania and Uganda.

Mirenge said government will early this year introduce a scheme to encourage and support gas importers in the country to reduce its cost to the last consumer in Rwanda.

He did not offer any details however regarding the actual incentives but said the package was being handled by the Ministry responsible for Energy and would be released in the first days of the year.

Currently, 6kg can of cooking gas at Kobil Petrol stations costs Rwf 75,000 while a 12kg can costs Rwf 85,000 at Nakumatt shopping mall.

Mirenge added: “Soon consumers will be relieved, government will introduce incentives on LPG (cooking gas), we are trying to reduce dependence on charcoal as this is very costly to the environment and we do not have enough electricity to cater for most energy requirements in the country.”

He noted that government is vigorously working on a plan to increase energy supply in the country whereby it has earmarked eight mini hydro electricity projects and construction works were already underway for some while the rest will begin sometime this month.

He added that Rwandans would have to wait a little longer to begin enjoying the benefits of methane gas whose extraction on Lake Kivu which began in November 2008.

“The equipment at Gisenyi pilot plant is only capable of producing 5 but because of the limited machinery we have currently it is only able to produce 1.5 megawatts.”

He said that the investors in the gas project are expanding the plant so that it can produce to its maximum but added that the extensions would be completed by 2011.

“Until then, the national energy requirements are being met by thermal generators which are very expensive as their monthly cost is estimated at $2m (approx Rwf1bn). In a telephone interview, Alex Kabuto the Director of the Methane Gas extraction project said that they are currently supplying Gisenyi town with 2 mega watts of electricity but added that Contour Global, the American firm in charge of extraction, was installing new machinery and would soon increase output to between “50-100 mega watts.” 

Experts say that if the project succeeds it has capacity to deliver 350 mega watts which would solve most of the energy problems in Rwanda.

The national energy requirements are stretched enough already with less than 10 percent of the population having access to it.   Kabuto said that currently the extraction is very expensive “because we have been renting the machinery but we are soon buying our own.”

“Within the next two years we will be able to stop depending on the diesel powered generators for electricity and supplement national energy requirements with this methane gas.” Kabuto said adding that the national budget will be relieved of foreign expenditure on diesel after the methane gas plant is expanded.

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