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Rwanda pursuing small scale generation

Rwanda is developing number of small power plants to increase current installed capacity within the East African country.  One of these is the Rukarara ll project, developed specifically to supply domestic consumers.

With an installed capacity of 119MW, with a target of an additional 564MW, the country is exploring a number of energy sources, including hydro, solar, geothermal, gas and peat.

“Over 4000 poor households of the country are expected to benefit from this new power plant which creates a positive impact,” says Daniel Mulisa, communications manager, Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA).

Yet, issues abound around the cost of electricity, which many Rwandan’s claim is too high.  However, Robert Nyamvumba, Deputy Director General/Energy at EWSA,  the government of Rwanda has continued to subsidise electricity in order to keep the current cost per unit in an affordable range.

“The cost per unit currently is $0.23/kWh,” Nyamvumba said.

He explains further that 44% of Rwanda’s power comes from expensively imported thermal/diesel and that $45 million is spent annually on thermal generation which would further impacts on the cost of electricity if it were not for the subsidies.

“If the entire cost of imported diesel was to be factored into the cost per unit of electricity, the cost per unit would be very high (estimated 0.36/kWh) and unaffordable to most citizens,” Nyamvumba said.

After signing a $40 million financial agreement with the African Development Bank recently, finance minister Amb. Claver Gatete said: “Increased electricity access creates employment opportunities, increase[s] off-arm jobs, contribute[s] to industrial development and reduce[s]  production costs through decreased electricity tariffs.”

With access to electricity sitting at 21% in Rwanda, access rates are still fairly low, although there area plans in place to increase access to 70% within the next four years.

According to MININFRA, the infrastructure ministry, Rwanda’s major rivers have proven 333 potential sites for micro-hydropower countrywide.

According to the ministry, opportunities exist in Micro and Small Hydropower projects, saying in a statement; “A couple of micro, mini and small hydropower projects are currently under construction.

“The largest domestic hydropower project under construction is Nyabarongo I, with an installed capacity of 28 MW. Some shared hydropower projects with neighbouring countries are also underway, including 145MW project shared by Burundi, DRC and Rwanda and a 90MW project to be jointly developed by Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.”