Boosting power in Rwanda through US investment

by Tendai Dube 0

Rwanda’s energy sector has seen an increase in investments due to the government’s creation of an environment conducive to stimulating new infrastructure projects through local and international investors to achieve its grid capacity of 563 MW by 2018.

One such company is ContourGlobal, which is harnessing Rwanda’s methane concentrations in Lake Kivu.

“I am pleased to say that it is now actually producing electricity, they are going through testing of full production and they will hopefully be at capacity and producing fully before the end of this year – that is 25 MW, a 20 per cent increase in the grid here in Rwanda,” said Erica Barks-Ruggles, US Ambassador to Rwanda.

Barks-Ruggles says Gigawatt global initially launched East Africa’s first ever utility scale solar energy facility in September of last year worth 24 million dollars and contributed 8.5 MW to the grid.

“Added six per cent to Rwanda’s grid at the time, enough to power 15 000 homes who previously had no access to power.”

This is an example of how Power Africa can bring together the private and public sector says Barks-Ruggles.

She explains how Gigawatt Global received a 400 000 dollar grant from the US, Africa Clean Energy Financing Initiative, which is part of Power Africa as well as through the US trade development agency and OPEC.

“The company guided the power from signing of the power purchase  agreement to completion of the project and putting energy on the grid in 12 months – the fastest ever utility level solar production in Africa.”

American companies are also investing in hydro, working to develop new projects under Power Africa in Rwanda.

“So with Lake Kivhu and the methane gas, the many hydro, the solar power and other projects in the pipeline, US-led investment in the energy sector is projected to bring 150 MW of new power online in Rwanda in the coming years – doubling Rwanda’s energy production,” the ambassador said.

Zelda Weitz, Chief Operations Officer at Symbion Power, believes a lot of progress has been made.

“We are on the final stages – literally weeks away of signing the power purchase agreement and other necessary paperwork required by the government.

Their company has projects in Lagos, Tanzania and looking at developing “several” projects in Madagascar.

“We are also looking at geothermal opportunities in Kenya and a potential project in Uganda but we are open to opportunities across the African continent, always seeking new investment opportunities,” said Weitz.