Published: Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Introduction

Rwanda has considerable opportunities for energy development – from hydro sources, methane gas, solar and peat deposits. Untapped resources for power generation amount to about 1,200 MW. Most of these energy sources have not been fully exploited. As such, wood is still the major source of energy for 94 per cent of the population and imported petroleum products consume more than 40 per cent of foreign exchange. 

Energy is a key component of the economy. It is thus recognised that the current inadequate and expensive energy supply constitutes a limiting factor to sustainable development. Rwanda’s Vision 2020 emphasizes the need for economic growth, private investment and economic transformation supported by a reliable and affordable energy supply as a key factor for the development process. To achieve this transformation, the country will need to increase energy production and diversify into alternative energy sources.

The Vision 2020 energy target is to have at least 35 per cent of the population connected to electricity (up from the current 6 per cent) and to reduce the rate of wood use in national energy consumption from the current 94 to 50 per cent (ROR 2000). Additionally, the PRSP aims to ensure a energy consumption growth rate of nearly 10 per cent per year, and a rural electrification rate of 30 per cent giving electricity access to 35 per cent of the population by 2020 (ROR 2007).

The energy crisis in Rwanda

Several indicators point to an energy crisis in Rwanda including: accelerated deforestation, a biomass energy deficit and deterioration in electricity generation and distribution systems.

The major part of the energy consumed in Rwanda today still comes from wood (80.4 per cent). Yet studies carried out as far back as 1981/82 and 1989/90 already showed a gap of 3,000,000 m³ of wood for energy needs only (Privatisation Secretariat undated). As a result, there is massive deforestation across the country with consequent effects on the environment. Deforestation is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 6: Forests and Protected Areas.

 

The installed electricity generation capacity is extremely low at 72.445 MW from all categories (MININFRA 2009a). Only 2 per cent of the population has access to electricity, and there is a gap in national production of electricity of more than 50 per cent which is filled by electricity imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda (Privatisation Secretariat undated). Figure 1 shows the energy demand by sector, while table 1 shows the current electricity generating capacity in the country.

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