10 March 2017

Rwanda: Talking Points for Keynote Address to 'Powering Africa Summit' by Infrastructure Minister

Photo: Joy Asico/EnergyNet
James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda

Washington, DC — Good morning. First of all, allow me, to pass on greetings from Rwanda, and warm greetings from our President, His Excellency Paul Kagame.

Today, I am honored to speak at this important summit "Powering Africa 2017" that brings together world renowned leaders, investors and energy practitioners from around the globe to share insights in the energy sector.

I wish to commend the organizers and pioneers of this initiative. It is a platform to network, showcase power projects, highlight infrastructure investment opportunities, and boost trade across the African continent.

It is also an occasion for decision makers from the American and African public and private sectors to interact and explore how best energy projects' success can be ensured.

Africa is a continent endowed with untapped abundant natural resources and a sizeable market. According to the AfDB's African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), Africa accounts for 30% of the world's known mineral reserves, with the largest reserves of cobalt, uranium, platinum, and diamonds, as well as 10 % of oil and 8% of gas resources.

Even then, the continent still lags behind in terms of economic development. Now, it is common knowledge that there is a strong correlation between economic prosperity and electricity access. Therefore, there is certainly a huge investment opportunity in the power sector in Africa today, and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Additionally, according to the World Energy Outlook 2014 factsheet, energy demand in Sub-Saharan Africa grew by around 45% between 2000 and 2012. However, that accounted for only 4% of the global demand despite of Africa being home to 13% of the world's population. And this only emphasizes the magnitude of energy demand in Africa.

Like other parts of the world, Africa should strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) of universal access to modern energy services by 2030. This requires collective efforts and massive investments in the power sector.

In Rwanda, we have taken a definite stance on solving energy-related issues to match our development aspirations. Currently, we have made major reforms in the energy sector which has allowed us to;

  • Triple electricity Access from 9% in 2010 to 31% as of January 2017 (On-grid 28% and 3% off-grid);
  • More than double power generation capacity between 2010 and Jan. 2017;
  • Decrease households and industrial tariffs by 51% and 30% respectively as of December 2016, to boost electricity demand by encouraging heavy industries.

Distinguished Participants,

This conference and today's panel discussions should help to answer important questions that are still prevalent in the energy sectors in our various countries, like:

How can we connect even the remotest of our villages to the grid?

How can energy projects benefit from diversified financing from Public and Private Investments?

How can we leverage capacity development in the countries where strategic investments are made?

In our experience in Rwanda, we have been trying to tackle these challenges as follows:

In the short to medium term, we have been connecting remote areas using a combination of off-grid solutions and mini-grids, while developing a strategy to ultimately connect these areas to the grid in the long-term.

In a bid to diversify financing and attract private investments, we set up a Government arm, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) - an institution mandated to help the country's development through private sector participation in the national development. RDB acts as a one-stop-center for investments.

Then, we embraced the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have been signed between developers and the GoR to achieve our power generation targets.

Of course, these new developments and our ambitions have also informed the need and our investment in capacity development. Thus, we have set up a national organ dedicated to Capacity Development - the Capacity development and Employment Services Board (CESB) - to respond to these needs and train an adequate number of experts in the energy sector and all other key sectors for the development of our country.

I believe this is where this Summit comes in handy and could play a critical role in further strengthening Capacity development in the energy sector in our respective countries.

Moreover, regional Power pools should be reinforced to meet the supply needs in our regions, which would require a proper regulatory framework to manage wheeling charges and the protection of interconnections.

In this 3rd Annual Powering Africa Summit, we expect tangible strategies with suitable follow-up actions that will lead to transforming the energy sector in the World and Africa in particular.

In conclusion, allow me to quote my President, His Excellency President Kagame; "The challenges facing our continent are well-known, but the enormous potential here, is just as obvious. By working together with… a sense of urgency for Africa to keep getting better, we can all do our part to keep things moving in the right direction."  End of quote.

Thank you for your kind attention.

H.E. Hon James Musoni is Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda. He delivered this keynote to the Powering Africa Summit.

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