A peat-fuelled plant in Rwanda costing an estimated $260 million (Rwf177 billion) is set to generate 80MW by the end of 2017 in the southern Mamba Sector in Gisagara District around the Akagera marshland.
This is part of Rwanda’s strategy to add another 563 megawatts to its power grid to help address the current electricity shortage and respond to the growing demand for energy. The government has also set a target to connect at least 70 per cent of Rwanda's households to electricity in the next four years.
The peat-fuelled power plant is an investment by government in partnership with Hakan, a private Turkish company, and will be the second of its kind in the country after the Gishoma peat plant, which is in its final stage of completion.
On Wednesday, the Minister of State for Water and Energy, Germaine Kamayirese, along with key officials visited the site to assess the progress which includes activities in peat mining before the plant is established.
The plant is expected to start producing electricity by the end of 2017, according to Robert Nyamvumba, the Managing Director for Energy Development Company Ltd. The second phase of the project which will start after 2017 is expected to add another 40 megawatts to the plant.
"This project will greatly contribute to achieving our target of generating at least 563 megawatts by 2017," Nyamvumba said during a tour of the plant. "In addition, the fact that a private company is investing a lot of money in the project will also stimulate other investors in the energy sector."
Nyamvumba emphasized that Rwanda needs to attract more investors in the energy market to generate sufficient energy to meet the demand from industrial and domestic use, something he said is crucial for steady and sustainable economic growth.
The country is already investing billions of Rwandan francs in energy production in order to meet its targets in line with its socio-economic development and poverty reduction strategy. Among the areas that have received significant investment include hydro-electricity and methane gas.
Electricity is considered a key factor in attracting investors and creating new business opportunities which can help transform the country's economy.
The cost of electricity has been a subject of debate as it is considered extremely high and unaffordable for the majority of business and households, but officials are confident that by increasing the country's energy sources this will assist in reducing the price of electricity.