Kigali, Rwanda — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 01 November 2011 – In a bid to increase the access to electricity among the rural population of Rwanda, three new micro-hydro power plants have been inaugurated in the Rubavu and Rutsiro districts of the country.
The three plants ‒ at Keya in the Rubavu district, and Cyimbili and Nkora in the Rutsiro district ‒ were constructed through Belgian-Rwandan collaboration, and have the capacity to produce a combined 3.2 MW of electricity, which is fed into the national grid to increase the power output by 5%.
According to Marc Pecsteen, the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda, more than 300 households were connected upon completion of the transmission lines, making more than 100,000 inhabitants profit directly or indirectly from the new extension lines in the two districts.
The ambassador observed, however, that the energy generated was still significantly low compared to demand, yet he remained optimistic about the impact it would have on local residents, especially for social and economic development.
“Without electricity, living conditions cannot be improved, vaccines against diseases cannot be kept in acceptable conditions, children will not be able to study in a conducive environment, business cannot be developed,” Pecsteen mentioned. “I am convinced that the local population is already enjoying these benefits, and hope that it will lead to increased and more diverse local income-generating activities.”
The plants and transmission lines stretching more than 60 km, have been constructed through a project co-funded by the government of Rwanda and the government of Belgium at a cost of more than US$15 million.
Infrastructure minister Albert Nsengiyumva says this is in line with government commitment to increase production and distribution of electricity as an engine to foster socio-economic development. According to the minister, only 15% of the Rwandan population has access to electricity. To overcome this situation, the government has set out clear targets of 1000MW and 50% of connections countrywide by 2017.
To achieve this target, development of renewable energy such as solar energy, methane gas energy, micro-hydro power plants and geothermal energy are alternatives that are to be expanded.