14 March 2011

Rwanda: Reco-Rwasco Renamed, Assigned New Duties

Kigali — The country's electricity and water utility corporation, RECO-RWASCO, is set to become into a more powerful government utility, with a new name, Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWASA).

According to the Minister of Infrastructure, Vincent Karega, the newly consolidated EWASA, which was adopted during last month's Leadership Retreat, will not only have the responsibility for electricity generation but will also handle distribution, which was formerly handled by RECO-RWASCO.

"The intention is to consolidate RECO-RWASCO to include other programmes, like energy generation and production, all aimed at addressing the challenges we face in this area, at the same time helping the government achieve its targets," Karega said.

"The transition is ongoing. There is a law putting in place EWASA, and the transformation (from RECO-RWASCO to EWASA) is already taking place," Karega added.

According to the Minister of State for Energy, Eng. Collette Uwineza Ruhamya, EWASA handle both generation and distribution of electricity in the country.

"RECO-RWASCO was just a government utility charged with distribution but now, among other responsibilities, EWASA will be charged with other tasks previously handled directly by the government, including energy generation and sewage management," Ruhamya said.

"Some of the departments that were at MININFRA (Ministry of Infrastructure) will move to EWASA and some of our staff will definitely move," she said.

She added that the ministry will continue to develop policy and to oversee effective implementation through monitoring and evaluation.

The State Minister said that, previously, the Ministry was responsible for big projects, especially those involving electricity generation, water supply and sewage systems, but now these functions will fall under EWASA.

"It is a process, the transition will continue but you can't stop operations. Work will continue as the process to create a fully fledged EWASA moves on," Ruhamya said. "As for now, we are looking at what kind of staff and facilities we need for EWASA to become fully operational."

The new body will be charged with the task of achieving the country's target of 1000MW by 2017. The government also targets increasing production by 25% in the next year.

Ruhamya said that she is optimistic that the target is achievable, noting that the government also intends to invest heavily in energy generating projects, alongside private investors.

"The government cannot sit back and wait for investors. We will invest in projects we consider urgent while, at the same, we will continue to prepare and market bankable projects as well as other available opportunities to investors. By doing this, we think the target is achievable," she said.

She said there are opportunities in the energy sector available for the private sector to exploit, including electricity generation, gas and oil exploration.

Rwanda is currently working on ambitious projects aimed at increasing energy availability to fuel economic growth. Among these is methane gas in Lake Kivu, geothermal energy and other sources of renewable energy.

Several hydro electricity projects are also in the pipeline including Nyabarongo, Rusumo and Rusizi III.

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