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Positive indications for Rwanda’s energy future

The Jabana power
project in Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 05 December 2012 – All indications are positive for the energy sector in Rwanda as 2012 begins, with the government  intensifying its strategy that adequate energy is crucial to the acceleration of the country’s economic growth.

“The New Times” reports that one of the indicators is the Kivuwatt methane project in Kibuye, which is already underway and is expected to start producing an initial 25MW of electricity by July 2012. This will increase Rwanda’s installed capacity by 40% before eventually producing 100 MW.

Rwanda has significant local energy resources which, other than methane gas, include geothermal and hydro power. The untapped resources are estimated to amount to 1,200MW, most of which has not been exploited.

The threshold set in the 2008-2012 Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) was to increase power generation to 130MW by 2012 through investments in hydropower and methane gas-to-electricity projects, including new and renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.

Now recently revised government targets are to develop over 1,000MW generating capacity by 2017 and connect 50% of the population to electricity by the same year.

Currently, 14% of the population has access to electricity, with over 90% relying on biomass for their energy needs. Biomass refers to organic matter, such as wood, used as fuel.

To make amends for the high biomass utilisation by the majority of the population, Rwanda has made some commendable efforts in providing 60% of households countrywide with improved stoves. As stated in the National Energy Policy and Strategy, this derives from the recognition that community involvement is a priority in developing energy resources.

Sustainable biomass utilisation and a green and low carbon development in electricity generation have been emphasised under the Energy Policy and Strategy.