Rwanda is set to generate extra 56 MegaWatt of electricity after Symbion Power established a $200 million energy plant on the shores of Lake Kivu.
According to the agreement signed with government on Friday, the investor will start generating the electricity in the next 14 months.
Unlike most infrastructure investments, Symbion Power will not be seeking any financing from a lender or a financier to implement the project as they have already mobilised the funds to implement the project.
The development will add impetus to the government efforts towards achieving 512MW installed power generation capacity by 2024 from the current 221MW.
The government is also optimistic that this and other investments will lead to universal access to electricity by 2024.
The local energy sector currently has investments of about $ 491 million.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, welcomed the development, saying that the investor's experience was much-needed diversity in the sector.
We cannot achieve the target without investors like Symbion in the private sector," Gatete said.
Lord Irvine Laidlaw, the Chairperson of the group said that they have experience in similar projects in Germany which they have since sold after successful implementation.
He committed to a second phase of investment of about $105 million following the completion of the current project.
Rwanda is riding on projects such as the Hakan Peat under construction which is expected to add 80MW to the grid as well as the Rusumo Hydro-electric project expected to add 26.7MW to the grid.
The expected increase in generation capacity is in line with anticipated demand from sectors such as construction in the development of secondary Cities, mining and quarrying which will be characterized by new modern mining methods well as processing of metal products.
A new power substation located in Gahanga in Kicukiro District. It will improve power supply in Kicukiro and Bugesera Districts. Courtesy.
The increase in generation is expected to reduce dependence on fuel which is currently at 27 per cent to about 5 per cent as well as reduce the import bill.
Rwanda Energy Group officials say that demand for energy in the country is relatively low.
Of the 221MW installed, Rwanda's energy demand is still estimated at about 140MW, according to Ron Weiss, the REG Chief Executive.
The low demand, he said, has seen them provide adequate energy even during dry seasons when generation capacity is at 164 MW.
He said that the low demand for energy is evident in the country's electrical energy per capita which is 56 kilowatthours (kWh) per year per person while countries such as Mauritius and Botswana have about 1975 Kwha and 1680 Kwha annually respectively. Countries such as Singapore have as high as 7913 Kwha.
To increase access to energy, Weiss said that they are working to increase transmission lines from the current 486 Kilometres (as of December 2018) to about 1500 Kilometres while substations will increase from 27 to 45 by 2024.
REG also has huge ambitions of connecting 200,000 households to the grid annually and 300,000 to off-grid to meet the 2024 access targets.
Currently, a total of 1.2 million households are connected to energy with access of 51 per cent.