Private sector urged to invest in energy

The local private sector has been put to task for its reluctance to invest in Rwanda’s energy sector despite the favourable business environment and strong foundation laid by government.

The call for more private sector involvement in the energy sector was made during the energy investment forum currently taking place in Kigali. This two-day meeting has brought together international, regional and local energy investors.

Johannes Zutt, the World Bank Country Director, urged investors to use the forum as platform to share with the government and the World Bank how they perceive energy sector in Rwanda.

“Let’s analyse the sector, how it works, what works well and what doesn’t work, to make the sector as attractive as possible,” said Director Zutt.

“We decided to invest into the solar power sector because the country’s potential in the energy sector is enormously untapped; our feasibility study is 90 percent complete, which will help us ascertain the budget, although I expect it to be around 42 million Euros,” Per V. von Pape, Founder and President of DSI international, said in an interview.

DSI is a Danish firm that is currently building a 20MW solar power plant in Kayonza District, Eastern Province, expected to be completed by December. The firm also plans to set up a solar panel factory in 2013.

Neil Sikubwabo, an engineer at SHER, a hydroelectricity consultancy firm, said that although power production in the country has a bright future, human resource remains a big challenge.

“There is definitely a lot of potential and a variety of investment opportunities. However, a low supply of engineers and technicians with the know-how to run things is costly because it forces the government to bring in expensive expatriates,” Sikubwabo told The New Times in an interview.

“We have developed detailed design studies on the Nkora and Kimbili micro-hydro power plants (600KW and 350KW) and their distribution networks. We also won a tender from the Ministry of Infrastructure to carry out more studies on existing plants”.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, said the Forum was timely.

“The importance of energy in the development of a country cannot be overemphasized as it’s the basic requirement for business, industry and commerce. We need reliable and affordable power supply,” he said.

The minister added that the country was ambitiously increasing access to electricity; a goal that cannot be achieved without the participation of the private sector, combined with efforts from development partners.

The government estimates the costs of developing the energy sector to be between $5 and 6 billion to produce 1000 MW. Two-thirds of the total cost of energy projects is expected to come from the private sector.

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