The New Times (Kigali)

4 December 2012

Rwanda: PM Updates Parliament On Electricity Rollout

Legislators from both chambers of parliament on Monday welcomed government's ambitious US$4.7 billion roadmap to sinificantly increase electricity generation and access in the next five years.

The plan was on Monday presented to parliament by the Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi.

While admitting that this was a huge cost, the Prime Minister explained that funds would be mobilised through a public-private partnership as well as from foreign investors.

The Premier told lawmakers, that the arrangement was already on track, citing the construction of the 4MW Giciye Hydro Plant in Nyabihu District by a local agricultural based cooperative, Rwandan Mountain Tea.

The plan envisions that by 2017, 70 per cent of the households will have electricity, up from the current 16 per cent and this will be necessitated by ensuring generation of 1,000 megawatts from the current 110, according to Habumuremyi.

He said that the other expected targets include connecting all schools, hospitals and health centres and sector offices without power before 2017 as well as major roads linking all cities beginning with townships along such highways.

"Out of the 1,000MW, about 320 MW will come from hydro power, 300 MW from methane gas, 310 MW from geothermal and 200 MW from peat energy sources," the Premier disclosed.

"In the rural areas, particularly, solar energy projects will be set up as well as other energy sources. We shall also build interconnections linking us with other countries and this will facilitate trade of electricity with other countries."

MP Anne Marie Musabyemungu suggested that government should explore other sources of energy to fast track electricity rollout.

"Other means such as solar power can be improvised so that health among rural folks is well catered for. Sometimes, pregnant women visit health centres but the traditional sources of power in use are either inappropriate or insufficient. The use of paraffin lamps, for example, affects newly born babies."

On her part, MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa thanked the government for its plans to increase power generation as well as achievements already registered.

"When we look back past years, for instance 2004 and 2005, many parts of the country had no power and one could go for almost a week without power. But now, many people have access to power and this has had a positive impact on the welfare of people.

"But under these plans, there is a concern. As electricity generation increases, so does the cost. I would like to know what causes this as we could generate more energy yet not all Rwandans access it. The cost issue should also be considered."

The Premier assured her that the cost issue is also under review.

He further talked of plans to encourage the use of energy saving bulbs and to bolster biomass use as a source of energy, among others.

"On a special note, government departments have been requested to use energy saving bulbs not later than March 2013. Civil servants have been asked to properly use electricity by lighting when it is necessary and to shut down all appliances that consume power as well as office lights after work. I wish to use this opportunity to request all Rwandans to espouse the culture of saving electricity in their daily activities."

In 2013 alone, government plans to increase power production by 50.5 MW.

Habumuremyi said: "To achieve this, we shall complete the methane gas project [KivuWatt] which will produce 25 MW, Nyabarongo which will generate 14 MW, Giciye [4MW], and 70 other micro hydro projects all over the country that will give us 7 MW."

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