Rwanda MPs question feasibility of govt’s 1,000MW power target

Friday June 28 2013

Technicians from the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority work on an electricity pylon. The authority has been urged to curb delays in energy projects. Photo/Cyril Ndegeya

As the country prepares to generate 800 megawatts of electricity before 2018, MPs are doubting whether the government will meet its target.

In a report tabled at a plenary session of the Parliamentary Committee for Trade and Economy following a field trip to examine the feasibility of the programme, legislators said they were concerned with the reality on the ground.

Last year, while presenting an ambitious report to parliament on the state of energy in the country, the prime minister promised lawmakers that by 2017 the country would generate 1,000MW of power.

The country currently generates about 100MW of electricity for its 11 million people, which is derived from approximately 55 per cent hydroelectric sources, 40 per cent diesel and five per cent methane gas.

Statistics show that 85 per cent of the existing energy supply is traditional and green-based, with 11 per cent being petrol-based while four per cent is hydropower.

Stalled projects


Puzzled by the shortage of power generation despite the country’s abundance of lakes and water streams, MPs called on the government to utilise available resources.

According to the MP’s report, a number of challenges that include lack of sufficient funds, delays in projects by contractors and environmental encroachments hamper the government’s ability to meet its energy targets.

“The targeted 1,000MW is unrealistic. It cannot be achieved if the current challenges are not addressed,” the report states.

The methane gas project, which is supposed to generate 300MW of power within five years lacks investors and only contributes 3MW to the national grid.

Read: Govt: Methane project in Kivu still on course

The Kibuye Power 1 (KP1) project has cost the government $20 million yet it only generates less than 3MW of power when the initial target was 4MW.

According to the parliamentary report, a 2009 preliminary project that was supposed to produce around 25MW of electricity was postponed to this year due to unpreparedness.

“Poor infrastructure, lack of qualified personnel and lack of enough electricity — power rationing to the plant hampers its productivity — have been major obstacles to the gas methane project,” said the report.

From the ambitious energy package presented by the Premier, the government was to also tap energy from peats in marshlands, which are substances formed from decaying plants just under the surface of the ground, especially in cool wet areas and are burned to create fuel.

Although in this year’s budget the government has allocated Rwf6.1 billion for the development of a peat power plant, the production of peats does not look promising due to the absence of investors, according to the report.

Faults pledges

The report equally faults districts which pledge more than they can deliver in terms of electricity, especially during the signing of performance contracts and of not liaising with the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) before they set targets.

The Ministry of Infrastructure, which has the overall authority on power generation and supply, was tasked with preparing a comprehensive policy on electricity generation. The government plans to invest Rwf45 billion to set up two hydropower projects to generate 172MW from Rusizi and Nyabarongo rivers.