Rwanda has relentlessly made tremendous leaps in its economic growth. It has been a successful 15 year uphill task of reviving a tattered private sector dismantled to rubble by war to eventually attain the current operational 72,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Though most of them are still in the nurturing stage, with the government investing billions to ensure that their growth is sustainable, it has also had to sustain the ever accelerating growth.
Most notably, Rwanda has attepted to sustain the private sector growth by increasing power supply to meet the increasing energy need.
For close to twenty years the country hadn’t invested in the energy sector. Currently, 10 percent of the population can get power which obviously undermines the high economic prospects of the country.
But this will start changing by June this year when 13 of the 26 micro hydro power projects will be completed.
“With the completion of these power stations, we expect to produce 16MW,” revealed Yussufu Uwamahoro, Coordinator for energy in the Ministry of Infrastructure.
He disclosed that there are two major Hydro power stations in Rukara and Nyabarongo underway and when completed will produce up to 38MW.
After the government financed a survey that ascertained the abundance of methane gas, a pilot project was done to prove its efficiency.
And driven by proof, the government started massive extraction of the gas to supplement the hydro power generation.
“The extraction of methane gas started and in the first phase we expect to supply 25MW and the second phase 75MW,” said Uwamahoro. As he disclosed, the methane projects will most likely be completed by the end of this year.
Since 2003, government has focused on stepping up power supply after studies were conducted to determine the vast need and low budget distribution options.
Uwamahoro said by the end of this year the percentage will have moved from 10 to 16 percent.
However, according to the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) targets, the energy sector has to reach 135MW by 2012 but currently stands at 63 MW.
Constructions are already underway jointly by government and Contour Global, an American company in extracting methane gas which is expected to boost power supply with clean energy.
“We are also looking at the fact that development is continuous and the demand is increasing,” he said.
Therefore, the government’s aggressiveness in the energy sector is to mitigate both current and growing gap.
Uwamahoro also revealed that in the pipeline are Rusizi III (145MW), Rusizi IV (287MW) at the border separating Rwanda, Congo and Burundi, then Rusumo falls 60(MW) found at the border separating Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.
With national development generally on the rapid rise, the government has a tough task at hand.
Recently, Rwanda halted purchasing power generated privately from fossil fuels, thus cutting down $1m (Rwf560m) in expenses. .
But Rwanda is still burning heavy fuel to produce 37.8mw.
A combination of hydro and methane gas projects expected to put an ended to the use of fossil fuel has also provided lucrative carbon trading benefits for Rwanda.
“We have already started talks with some private companies that are interested in carbon trading with us,” revealed Uwamahoro.
A 2004 signatory to the Kyoto protocol, Rwanda’s committed to going green.