The Government of Rwanda has announced plans to increase power supply for industrial use.
The Minister of Infrastructure, James Musoni said his Ministry with the support of electricity bodies, Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) and Rwanda Energy Group (REG), are working on a strategy that will help reduce load shedding among productive sectors of the economy.
The Rwanda’s New Times reports that the move follows complaints by industrialists over inadequate power supply and unscheduled load shedding, which they say are costing them dearly in terms of production process breakdowns.
The manufacturers want the energy utilities to give them nine of hours of uninterrupted electricity supply daily, up from the present six hours.
Rwanda’s installed power generation capacity is 161.2MW, but only 119.38MW is available, according to the power utilities. This means a 41.8MW deficit. Government expects to add 70MW onto the national grid by the end of the current fiscal year. It also plans to increase the country’s total capacity to 563MW by 2017.
Musoni, who was speaking during a field tour of the electricity control centre in Gikondo, Kikicuro District, on Thursday, also said government would engage industrialists and other stakeholders on finding a lasting solution for the power challenge.
The Minister, however, urged electric utilities to supply industrialists and other productive sectors uninterrupted electricity from 6am in the morning to 3pm in the afternoon.
Musoni said this would help keep the economy in a good shape despite power deficit the country is experiencing presently.
According to the Minister, EUCL, a subsidiary company of REG, should prioritise the productive sectors of the economy until the situation stabilises.
The country is currently facing a power deficit due to the prolonged dry spell it is experiencing. This has resulted into a reduction in water levels at Nyabarongo 1 power plant, thus leading to a reduction in power generation.
“We need to always plan ahead to keep the economy supplied with electricity despite the dry season. We must draw lessons from this so that next year we avoid recurrence of the same problem,” Musoni told officials from the two agencies.
Meanwhile, the move to increase electricity supply to manufactures is a timely intervention that could help ease the cost of production.
“It is a great decision if implemented. Our biggest challenge as producers has been the inconsistent power supply, which often damages equipment leading to big losses and costs for repairs or need for new spare parts,” said Anne Rwigara, the secretary general of the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers (RAM).
Industrialists have, for long, been complaining of intermittent power supply and unscheduled load shedding, which they say damages their machinery.
They had earlier this year threatened to take the electricity body to courts of law if the matter was not addressed immediately.
According to Odette Mbabazi, the EUCL Managing Director, more power will soon come on line and help reduce load shedding, especially during dry spells of the year.
Today, the country’s hydro electricity generation capacity stands at 97.37MW, thermal power 51.7MW, methane 3.6MW, while 8.75MW is produced from solar energy. The national power generation capacity is expected to increase when projects, like Kivuwatt (25MW), Gishoma Peat Plant (15MW) and Giggawatt solar power plant (8.5MW), are connected onto the national grid.
Other efforts to increase power supply include importing 30MW from Kenya – expected by the end of the year – and another 400MW from Ethiopia by 2018.
Government has allocated Rwf135 billion this financial year to the energy sector to increase electricity supply to spur industrial growth.