Oxygen use in Rwandan hospitals raising power costs

Sunday February 25 2018

Patients wait at a Rwandan hospital. Hospitals

Patients wait at a Rwandan hospital. Hospitals in the country with oxygen plants, scanners and oxygen cylinders and other facilities that consume a lot of power have raised alarm over increasingly high electricity bills. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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Rwandan hospitals with oxygen plants, scanners and oxygen cylinders that are used to transport compressed oxygen among other facilities that consume a lot of power have raised alarm over increasingly high electricity bills.

Officials say the cost of running oxygen plants is rising due to higher electricity charges. Currently, hospitals are charged a residential power tariff of Rwf227 ($0.27) per kilowatt.

They want the government to review their tariff structure and get moved to non-residential power tariff of Rwf126 ($0.15) per kilowatt.

“A hospital is a lifesaving facility and it should be charged non-residential power tariffs,” said Augustin Sendegeya, the Managing Director of University Central Hospital of Butare.

Abdallah Utumatwishima, the managing director of Ruhengeri hospital told Rwanda Today that the hospital currently spends a lot of money on electricity bills partly due to higher costs associated with running an oxygen plant.

According to the management of Ruhengeri Hospital, it costs them over Rwf266,000 ($264) every day to make 900 litres of pure oxygen.

While the hospital initially sought to cut costs by manufacturing its own oxygen, it says its electricity bill has more than doubled from about Rwf4 million ($4,680) to Rwf8 million ($9,360) per month.

However, demand for pure oxygen is still relatively lower making it difficult for hospitals to cover their production costs.

Patrick Ndimubanzi, the State Minister of Public and Primary Healthcare, said the government has already started supplying hospitals with additional electricity.

He said Kibuye and Kibungo hospitals have acquired scanners needed to connect them to high voltage electricity.

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