Rwanda: Energy Firms Mull Ways to Increase Uptake of Cooking Gas

23 January 2019

To remedy the fact that the number of Rwandans having access to gas remains low, private firms in gas retail and wholesale are mulling best strategies to grow their penetration into the local market.

With the Government aiming at increasing the usage of environmentally friendly forms of energy an alternative to sources such as charcoal, it presents an opportunity for firms to be increasingly relevant in the local market.

However, this necessitates private companies to come up with different strategies to change the status quo and eliminate factors that have been holding back adoption.

Studies by Business Times has established that the major hindrance in regards to the acquisition of cooking gas include the initial investment which is often considered high.

For instance, a first time user of 6kg cylinder has to part with Rwf50,000 while one with the same cylinder pays about Rwf7000 for a refill.

This has pushed the local operators to look for alternatives which can help increase their market share at the same time enabling the public to use carbon-free energy sources.

With innovation such as pay-as-you-cook which is currently in its incubation stage, there could be significant penetration as it could reduce the initial cost of investment.

This could give access to low-income earners as well as those who avoid the technology owing to factors such as the initial cost of acquisition.

Oluwatobi Oyinlola, the brains behind the innovation, told Business Times that their initial market studies have shown that there is a market for the model in Rwanda.

"We have so far got a positive response from potential investors and for partnership. We are looking forward to getting a clear picture after rolling out our pilot phase which will provide us with further insights, thus enabling us to establish an ideal market strategy.

Other players say that the main bottleneck is the logistics, especially the uneven distribution of refilling site, across the country, making it expensive to reach consumers in far-flung areas across.

Yves Legrux, the Chief Executive of Societe Petroliere Ltd, told Business Times that the main challenge is the accessibility of cooking gas include swift and timely replacement of the empty with a full cylinder, which often causes a significant section of the market to result into alternative energy sources, including charcoal.

"That's why we want to construct more than six refilling sites in different secondary cities by June this year," he said.

With such initiatives, the country may soon experience a paradigm shift in the market to drive up accessibility and uptake of clean energy towards the vision of building a carbon-free society.

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