Power shortage to end as works at Mukungwa plant ends

Friday November 13 2015

Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, CEO of Rwanda Energy

Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, CEO of Rwanda Energy Group. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali, RT Special Correspondent

From the middle of this year many parts of the country have experienced electricity shortages which caused loss and damage to the businesses community as a result of frequent power cuts.

Power rationing began in June and exacerbated in August as water levels at the hydropower generation stations fell. Many businesses had to buy generators to cope with the blackout.

Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, CEO of Rwanda Energy Group (REG), told Rwanda Today that the power shortage was also due to the rehabilitation of the Mukungwa 1 hydropower plant which began in January. The 12 MW-capacity plant was not producing electricity.

“From the end of this month, Mukungwa 1 will come back to the national grid, producing 12 MW; so we expect next year we will not experience the power shortage we had this year,” said Mr Mugiraneza in an interview.

Electricity access is 23 per cent countrywide while the target is to have 70 per cent by 2018.

Meanwhile, the troubled Kivu Watt project, which is under commissioning, has started testing equipment and machines.

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Mr Mugiraneza said last weekend that Kivu Watt had produced 16.5 MW.

“It is clear that technology is working, there is no doubt about it, because it is producing power,” he said. “Initially, some people could not believe it, given the size!

“There is a small power plant on the side of Rubavu producing 3 MW, but given the site, some people thought the technology would not work.

“I am saying technology is working because they are extracting methane gas; they separate it from water, the gas is the mixture of methane gas and carbon dioxide and nitrogen, so now they can separate those gases and produce pure methane gas.”

The gas is transported from the middle of the lake to the powerhouse.

“They are fixing everything now; the target is to reach 25 MW,” Mr Mugiraneza emphasised. “But at the weekend, they were able to produce 16.5 MW; they are still testing and commissioning machines and equipment.”

REG says this will increase generation capacity and end the shortage.

Rwanda has an installed capacity of 160 MW and plans to increase this to 563 MW by 2018. At least $3 billion is required for generation and transmission in order for the country to achieve this target. The private sector is expected to invest about $1.3 billion (Rwf963 billion) to increase generation capacity.