Electricity supply woes could soon be a thing of the past for residents and businesses in the City of Kigali within the next two years. According to new ambitious targets set by the Rwanda Energy Group (REG), productive users like community production centres will also be able to enjoy uninterrupted power supply beginning in five years.
These targets are part of the commitments in the recently-signed performance contracts by REG and its subsidiary companies. The performance contracts state the targets and strategies to reach government energy targets by the end of 2018.
The government targets at least 563MW installed power generation capacity by the end of next year. Eng Ron Weiss, the REG chief executive, said the power utility targets to connect all Rwandan households by 2024.
"We have set our targets, but we will have to stretch them in the future," he noted.
"We want to connect all citizens of Rwanda in the coming seven years and all productive users in five years. We are also preparing a plan to connect all Kigali residents in two years," Weiss indicated in a tweet earlier.
The other targets include improvement of the distribution network to ensure efficiency, reduction of commercial losses and increasing revenue collection, as well as strengthening corporate management and staff performance.
As part of the contract with REG, Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) plans to increase access to grid and off-grid electricity, boost power generation capacity, as well as expand and strengthen the transmission network, among others. These goals are instrumental toward the realisation of the country's development objectives.
EDCL also committed to increase the access to electricity from 35.6 per cent to 45 per cent by June 2018. This will see 115,978 households connected on the national electricity grid, while 118,772 others will access off-grid energy solutions.
The second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and the rural electrification policy emphasise access to electricity by productive users as part of efforts to support socio-economic development across the country.
These include markets, health centres, schools, handicraft centres (udukiriro), small industries as well as milk collection centres, among others. Currently, 2934 productive users are connected to the national grid and the target for this year (2017) is to connect at least 331 new productive users by June 2018.
Presently, the country's total installed power capacity is around 190MW, an increase from 186MW in 2015.
There are various projects that are still ongoing which when completed will significantly improve the country's generation capacity. These include the Hakan Peat to Power project that is expected to produce 80MW, the 80MW Rusumo hydropower plant, the 50MW Symbion methane gas power plant on Lake Kivu, exploration of geothermal resources and construction of eight small hydro power schemes, among others.
In a bid to ensure efficient and stable power supply, the utility will expand and strengthen the electricity transmission network, according to the officials.
Planned and ongoing projects to be implemented during this financial year include the construction of various transmission lines namely 220kV lines (237 kilometres), 110kV lines (141.2 kilometres), as well as a 30kV line of 60.6 kilometres. All these lines will be built together with their associated substations.
Other activities and projects include feasibility studies; rehabilitation of Rwabuye fuel storage, and carrying out awareness campaigns on the use of biogas, improved cooking stoves and liquefied petroleum gas for energy efficiency.
The overall energy utility targets
According to Energy Utility Corporation Limited, the objective is to improve transmission and distribution capabilities and ensure uninterrupted electricity supply.
Reactive power compensators will be installed to reduce power losses to achieve this target, while the Kigali distribution network will also be reinforced to meet the demand.
About 200 kilometres of old and overloaded power transmission (medium and low voltage) lines will be rehabilitated and strengthened, while a new Jabana-Mount Kigali-Gahanga high voltage transmission line and associated substations will be constructed.
According to officials, the projects are expected to help improve electricity distribution and reduce losses and hence boost service delivery.
The utility also plans to install fault locators and testing vans as it moves to reduce the time taken to detect and address a network problem. The average percentage of thermal (in the energy mix) will be reduced from 23 to 20 per cent. Equally, EUCL is expected to increase the annual revenue from sales from Rwf93 billion earned last year to Rwf102.5 billion.
RAM welcomes the move
Commenting on the new targets, Alphonse Kwizera, the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers (RAM) technical expert, said increasing power generation could translate into low electricity charges and drop in operational cost.
He added that adequate and constant power supply is crucial to the productivity and competitiveness of the country's industrial sector.
Manufacturers and other commercial users have for long been complaining about inadequate and intermittent power supply, as well as the high tariffs, saying the challenges push up operational costs and affect their competitiveness.
"Therefore, having the major players in the energy sector committing to meet the targets is a welcome move on the side of the business community," he said.