Rwanda seeks more energy as economy idles  

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The East African has a report on the development of a range of renewable energy projects in Rwanda, including hydro, geothermal power and gas from the great lakes - Rwanda seeks more energy as economy idles.

Rwanda is set to double its energy production in the next one year by tapping into geothermal, solar and methane gas to bridge the existing power deficit that is increasingly piling pressure on the economy.

The Ministry of Energy plans to increase the number of connections to the national grid from the current 120,000 to 300,000 households by next year and increase the total installed power generation capacity to 130MW.

Rwanda’s installed capacity is 64.55MW (local) and imported is 14.5MW which makes a total available capacity of 79MW with only 15 per cent of Rwanda’s population of 10 million has access to electricity.

Expensive and limited energy — electricity costs $0.22 per kWh compared with $0.08-$0.10 in the rest of the region — is raising the cost of doing business in Rwanda, according to the World Bank.

However, the government targets to have at least 1,000MW onstream by 2017, with 50 per cent of its population having access to electricity, up from the current 15 per cent.

“We have decided to have our own small ‘quick win’ projects — such as peat energy, which should generate 15MW. We will start drilling for geothermal, which should give us about 10MW, and the methane gas project will give 25MW next year,” State Minister for Energy and Water Coletha Ruhamya said last week.

Recently, the Kivuwatts project, which will allow extraction of methane gas from Lake Kivu in Western Rwanda, received a World Bank guarantee against political risks of $140million.

The $325 million gas-to-power project owned by ContourGlobal, a US based oil and gas firm, is expected to generate 100MW if completed as scheduled in 2012.

Ms Ruhamya said the ongoing projects are expected to generate an additional 60MW in the next year, helping the country bridge its energy deficit in the short term as regional projects kick off.

A round table meeting was held last week between Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to formally approve the creation of a water management agency for the Lake Kivu basin and the new international treaty setting up the institutional framework to develop the Ruzizi III power project.

Ms Ruhamya noted that the ongoing projects would reduce the high energy costs in the long term as the country reduces dependency on petroleum products such as diesel for energy.

Currently, Rwanda imports approximately 17 million litres of oil monthly, including for industrial consumption.
Michel Arrion, head of EU delegation in Rwanda said the Ruzizi project is expected to not only boost power supply to the three countries but also reduce the cost of energy.

“The Ruzizi project is going to provide about 150MW; two times the annual consumption of Rwanda, currently estimated at 82MW,” he said.

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