The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: EU Shifts Devt Support to Energy Sector

The European Union (EU) has pledged to fund major energy projects in Rwanda during the period running between 2013 and 2015.

Micheal Arrion, the EU head of delegation, announced this yesterday while speaking at the ACP-EU Energy Facility Forum that is underway in Kigali.

The two-day seminar focuses on promoting good practices regarding the implementation of energy projects, based on the experience of the already ongoing projects within the sector.

"The funding of the energy sector in Rwanda, is something new for EU, as you know, the rate of access of energy in the country is quite low, we want to help the government to improve those rates," said Arrion.

He could however not specify the amount his institution was going to inject into the venture, saying it will be determined after thorough talks with the government and other stakeholders.

"We have been very active in funding roads rehabilitation, rural development, in particular, crop intensification programme, post harvest mechanisms and the justice sector. Energy development in Rwanda hasn't been our priority area of intervention," he said.

Arrion stated that it is in response to the 2013 Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 11) of Rwanda and within the framework of the division of labour among donors.

"After discussions and negotiations with the government, we do expect to have a final programme for the next five years from 2013-2018, where we will certainly focus the large part of our interventions and financial envelopes on energy sector," he explained.

The forum that was organised by Danish Management Energy group, saw the launch of the call for proposals that will allow grants for an additional 68 energy projects.

The EU envoy pointed out that his organisation will focus mainly on renewable energy and major projects like hydropower and other energy sources that will help Rwanda improve the energy mix.

The meeting which has drawn participants from the eastern, central and southern Africa is held under the theme "improving access of energy services for the poor in rural and peri-urban areas".

At the event, the State Minister in Charge of Energy and Water, Emma Francoise Isumbingabo said Rwanda recognises that lack of reliable and affordable electricity as a critical issue impacting the economy and a major obstacle to the improvement of living conditions of the rural population.

"Our country's target is to initiate energy sources to have access rate at 70 percent by the year 2017. In order to achieve this goal, the government is encouraging public-private development approach that will boost the expansion of generation capacity to energy mix comprising of hydro-power, methane gas, geothermal, peat among others, to have 1,000 megawatts on stream," she explained.

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