Power outage to hit Kigali as EUCL rehabilitates network

Friday October 13 2017

Rwanda Energy Group (REG) officials had earlier said the upgrade would start with the lines around Kigali, extending to the rest of the country when funds are available. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

By Johnson Kanamugire

Power users in Rwanda should expect frequent interruptions in the next 18 months as the power distributor Electricity Utility Corporation Ltd embarks on rehabilitation and upgrade of its transmission network.

“We have a number of upgrade and rehabilitation projects that are priority, and some are lined up for this financial year. However, the shortest time of upgrading a transmission line or a substation can take is 18 months. So we cannot say that power outages is something we are going to completely do away soon,” said EUCL’s managing director Engineer Jean Claude Kalisa.

Most of the power transmission lines and switch gear have been in service for more than 40 years, causing frequent outages.

Rwanda Energy Group (REG) officials had earlier said the upgrade would start with the lines around Kigali, extending to the rest of the country when funds are available.

With power generation reaching 144 MW against a peak demand of 115 MW a year ago, there were hopes that service disruptions would be history.

Complaints over frequent power outages have risen over the past two weeks as a result of network breakdowns and scheduled repairs.


A local football match was halted halfway when a stadium in Rubavu fell in total darkness due to power outage. The incident followed days of frequent power outages in Kigali and other parts of the country.

Kigali businesses and its environs had endured four to 11 hours of darkness daily for up to four days a week earlier.

READ: Frequent power outages leave Rwanda businesses counting losses

High costs

Business owners bore high cost of running generators while those in areas earlier notified of the outage complained it took longer periods than stated in the announcement.

REG had announced it would carry out “urgent” repair works of electrical equipment in a number of substations — Mururu I, Mashyuza and Birembo — causing hour-long interruptions of power supply between September 15 and 17.

This was expected to leave many Remera, Kimironko, Kibagabaga, Gikomero, Kinyinya and parts of Kanombe in temporary blackouts.

However, businesses in Gakinjiro, one of Kigali’s fast-growing business hubs, suffered as power supply was restored delayed.

“We were told that technicians were fixing technical faults in the network but no information about how long it would take. We didn’t know it was going to take long this long,” said Felix Niyonsenga, a timber trader in Gisozi, adding that the latest power outages caused him close to Rwf400,000 ($477).

EUCL clarified that the incidences were due to a technical hitch at one of the feeder, which coincided with repair works that were already scheduled on major sub-stations.

“It was a specific problem because a storm hit insulators at a location called Kilinda, and sorting it lasted for a few hours. The reason complaints have been on the rise could be because this happened during peak days when we had scheduled carrying out several repair works,” said Mr Kalisa.

Meanwhile, power users expect further blackouts as EUCL plans works on power transmission lines and substations lined up for upgrade this year.

Mr Kalisa said predictable outages would be communicated ahead of time except for factors like extreme weather and abrupt technical glitches that are outside the company control.

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