27 May 2014

Rwanda: Kivuwatt to Add 25MW to National Grid By Sept As Production Target

At least 25 megawatts will in September this year be added to the national electricity grid from methane gas extraction, the Minister of State in charge of Energy and Water said yesterday.

The minister made the remarks during a tour of the plant by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Donald Kaberuka.

The Bank is one of the financiers of the project.

"Eighty per cent of the work under phase one is done, and at least by September, production should be starting," Minister Emma Françoise Isumbingabo said.

KivuWatt, a project that started in 2009, is managed by Contour Global, which signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Rwanda.

The project was initially marred by irregularities, with multiple deadlines for power production set and missed.

"This project was originally supposed to end in January 2012, but it was not possible," Isumbingabo said, citing financial, technical and environmental challenges as the causes for the delays.

The news that production is just a few months away will help build confidence that the national target of powering 70 per cent of households in the country by 2017 is achievable.

The AfDB has so far invested $180 million and after touring the production facility, the Bank's president said the success of the project was important for both Rwanda and Africa.

"It was important to come and see for myself, and I am satisfied," Kaberuka said, adding that successful power generation from the Kivuwatt project was a crucial step in solving the energy deficit faced by the country and continent.

The AfDB president pledged continued support to similar projects.

KivuWatt's second phase that targets to generate an additional 75 mega watts will begin shortly after phase one.

The initial phase involved powering three engines and, according to Minister Isumbingabo, nine more engines will be deployed in the second phase.

"Our aim is to have the kind of energy that will expand household access to power, lower costs yet present a low environmental risk," Isumbingabo said.

Jarmo Gummerus, the KivuWatt country manager, said besides addressing energy shortfalls, the project has created jobs and would continue doing so in the subsequent phase.

"We are employing over 500 workers, and this number is expected to go up when production starts," Gummerus said.

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