26 February 2013

Rwanda: Businesses Count Losses As Erratic Power Supply Takes Toll

Power outages have interrupted businesses in Nyarugenge, Kicukiro and Gasabo districts, leaving enterprises counting losses.

Business people and residents in these districts said there have been incessant power cuts over the past several days, which are mainly experienced during the morning and evening hours.

The mostly affected businesses are office premises, Internet cafes, shops, restaurants and schools.

Jean d'arc Cyurinyana, the RTUC Restaurant manager in Kigali City, told The New Times that power was being cut without informing them.

"EWSA has been cutting electricity for over a week now.

I have started losing clients as a result because when they ask cold drinks and coffee, I cannot provide them since I don't have power," she said.

"We pay our bills on time to EWSA (Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority) so they should ensure that there is power all the time," she added.

Elisa Nsengiyumva, the manager of Alpha Studio in Remera, lamented that the cuts were hurting his earnings since he gets most of his clients in the evenings.

"My clients come from six o'clock, but by that time, there is no power. EWSA should reconsider its electricity outage schedule. My business has been hurt and I can't afford a generator to keep computers working," he said.

Mark Murenzi, the director of electricity utility at EWSA, said Rwandans should understand that the country does not have enough power to meet the current demand, without rationing power.

He added that the scada system which helps monitoring and managing the electricity network that Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo use to synchronise power has been experiencing problems.

This has interrupted power transmission in the DR Congo and Burundi and, sometimes caused cascade tripping of EWSA's system when both networks are synchronised.

"We know an incident happened on February 23 due to the trip of 110KV income circuit in the lines feeding Kigali from Birembo and Jabana sub-stantiations.

"This caused overload on engines and tripped both master plants in the network followed by all hydropower plants of Rukara, mukungwa and Ntaruka. More so, the heavy rain and wind of last Sunday caused trees falling on our towers and short circuit," he explained.

According to Murenzi, this led to power outages in different places in Kigali, especially during morning and evening hours. "However, EWSA has taken measures to separate networks of south and north to avoid future system instability," Murenzi said.

Rwanda's grid system installed power capacity is only 110MW from all generation plants.

The electricity network is operated separately, with the northern part of the country using a 67.57MW line, while the southern one has a 21.39MW line. About 15MW is supplied by Societe international d'electric de grand lac SINELAC.

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