Rwanda energy group boss dogged by corruption allegations

REG officials blame the slow connections of electricity due to delays in delivery of transmission materials.

Rwanda Energy Group officials blame their slow pace in connecting households to electricity to delays in delivery of transmission materials. CEO Ron Weiss was brought in by President Kagame in May. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

IN SUMMARY

  • Two weeks ago, engineer Ron Weiss, the new CEO of REG, told the media that his four months in office have been tainted by legal issues and challenges related to service delivery, all of which have affected the firm.
  • REG, which has a number of subsectors for electricity distribution and connectivity, has been in the spotlight over reckless expenditure of public monies, flouting tendering and procurement procedures, breaching recruitment policies and mismanagement of projects.
  • Over the years, REG has been pinned by the Auditor-General’s report for misusing public funds and unnecessary expenditure of resources.

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The four months in office for the newly appointed chief executive officer of Rwanda Energy Group (REG) have been dogged by allegations of corruption, financial and technical challenges.

Two weeks ago, engineer Ron Weiss, the new CEO of REG, told the media that his four months in office have been tainted by legal issues and challenges related to service delivery, all of which have affected the firm.

“Ever since I started this job, I have faced many challenges including allegations of corruption, financial and technical challenges, which are hampering our efforts to improve the quality of service delivery,” Mr Weiss told the press after meeting with the utility firm’s employees a fortnight ago.

He said they are working on key reforms to make the body more efficient.

Spotlight

REG, which has a number of subsectors for electricity distribution and connectivity, has been in the spotlight over reckless expenditure of public monies, flouting tendering and procurement procedures, breaching recruitment policies and mismanagement of projects.

According to Mr Weiss, REG needs to improve its efficiency if it is to increase the pace of connecting households to both off-grid and on-grid electricity, and meet the country’s target of connecting all households to electricity.

“We need our subsidies to increase the speed of electrification to at least 12 per cent from the current four per cent of households connected to electricity every year. Otherwise our mission will be impossible,” said Mr Weiss.

Rwanda has set an ambitious target of having every household connected to electricity by 2024 from the current 886,000 households connected, which represents 34.5 per cent of the target.

President Paul Kagame made a pledge to have all Rwandans connected to electricity in the recently concluded presidential election.

REG officials blame the slow pace of connecting households to electricity to delays in delivery of transmission materials.

Mr Weiss, an Israeli national, was brought in by President Kagame at the beginning of May to head REG, which is made up of Energy Development Corporation Ltd and Energy Utility Corporation Ltd.

Officials from the Energy Utility Corporation Ltd told Rwanda Today that the seven-year target for the energy sector is under revision in co-ordination with other sectors.

Over the years, REG has been pinned by the Auditor-General’s report for misusing public funds and unnecessary expenditure of resources.

Recently, a top official of the Energy Development Corporation Ltd, one of two subsidies of REG, was arrested over alleged illegal awarding of public tenders.

“Investigations are still on going. If we find other cases of financial and legal non-compliance or misuse of public funds, we will highlight them,” said Manasseh Mbonye, the board chairman of REG.

According to Prof Mbonye, REG’s leadership met the organisation’s representatives across the country, together with the police and officials from the Auditor-General’s office in order to caution them against non-compliance to laws and regulations.

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