The New Times (Kigali)

28 February 2014

Rwanda: Energy a Major Business Opportunity in Rwanda, Says U.S. Official

Insufficient electricity in Rwanda is number one challenge and opportunity for investors, the head of a US Government body that supports American investors overseas has said. Elizabeth Littlefield, the president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), is on a working visit to Rwanda.

OPIC is a US State Department agency in charge of working with American investors overseas, providing them with debt financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds. "The power sector is clearly the biggest challenge but also the biggest opportunity. We will encourage US investors to come and venture into hydropower, geothermal, wind, solar, and biogas," she said in an interview with the media, shortly after meeting President Kagame at Village Urugwiro.

With electricity production standing at 110 megawatts and only 16 per cent of the population accessing electricity, Rwanda intends to produce at least 563 megawatts by 2018. Government officials say producing more energy will be done by exploiting various energy sources, including methane gas, peat, solar, and biogas.

Apart from the country's energy sector, which remains attractive for American entrepreneurs, the latter have also invested in coffee and tea processing, forestry and agriculture investment management, and humanitarian services.

OPIC has invested $26 million to cover financing and insurance for five active business projects in Rwanda, including the tea processing and exporting company Sorwathé and Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee processing group.

The Finance minister, Amb. Claver Gatete, said Rwanda's environment is open to investors and encouraged OPIC to continue investing in the country. After visiting different companies with American interests in the country, Littlefield said OPIC officials "are very excited" to help trigger more investments in Rwanda.

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