Kigali, Rwanda — Rwanda's ambitions of producing 1000MW of electricity by 2017 will cost the government a hooping US$4.7bn in the next five years, the country's parliament heard on Monday last week.
While the amount involved is staggering, Rwanda's prime Minister Dr. Pierre Habumuremyi told legislators last week that the investment's results will be worth the efforts as huge stocks energy are tipped to reduce significantly the cost of electricity which will in turn bolster
industrial growth and general economic development.
Producing 1000mega watts of electricity in five year's time is an ambition many doubt the government will be able to achieve in time considering that the country's current energy stock is only about 110 mega watts and only plans to add an additional 50.5mega watts by the end of 2013.
According to information available in Rwanda's energy distribution body, EWSA, there are plans to produce at least 320 MW from hydro power, 300 MW from methane gas, 310 MW from geothermal and 200 MW from peat energy sources.
Currently, only 16% of the Rwandan population has access to electricity but according to Government officials here, this should have risen up to 70% by 2017.
This would require fast tracking ongoing energy investments in the country with just five years to deadline. According to the country's Electricity Development Strategy 2011-2017, Electricity connections are projected to increase from 200,000 to around 1,200,000 by 2017, which will be equivalent to 50% of access.
Top on the government's priorities are schools, health centers, government offices at sector level all of which it's said will be 100% fully connected either through connection to the national grid or through reliable off-grid systems by 2017.
The electricity consumption projections reckon that domestic demand is expected to account for 60% of peak demand, while cross border mining projects are expected to account for 20% with sub regional electricity markets consuming the remaining 20%.
Currently, Rwanda is spending millions of dollars per month on a thermal energy power plant which generates up to 20 mw of electricity from heavy fuels contributing 40% of the country's total energy resources.
Built and completed in 2009 with aid from the World Bank, the Jabana thermal was an emergency project to address Rwanda's energy crisis.
Beyond the domestic energy investments, Rwanda is also in joint energy projects with other countries in the region including Rusizi III 145 MW project shared with Burundi and DRC with Rwanda's own share expected to be around 48MW.