The Minister of Infrastructure James Musoni, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles, German Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Peter Woeste and other project partners yesterday attended the launch of the construction of Rwaza I hydropower plant in Musanze district, Northern Province.
The hydropower plant is being developed with a grant partly provided by the United States Government’s Power Africa Initiative.
When completed, the hydropower plant will provide reliable, affordable electricity into the Rwandan national grid. The project will produce approximately 20 Gigawatt hours of electricity each year, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of approximately 20,000 Rwandan households. The hydropower plant is expected to provide approximately 2 percent of the total electricity produced in the country, and will stabilize the local grid—improving power supply to local business and industries.
“American companies are at the forefront of helping Rwanda meet its energy needs and are driving investment in all energy sectors, including methane gas, off-grid solar, and the mini-hydro sector,” said Ambassador Barks-Ruggles. “I am excited about the progress we have made over the past couple of years and the potential for further U.S. investment and engagement through the Power Africa initiative to help Rwanda meet its energy needs.”
“The Power Plant we are launching today might be small in size, but we have no doubt that even the 2.6 MW to be produced at Rwaza-Muko HydroPower Plant will greatly contribute to our bold vision. This project could not have come at a more opportune time, as we project our energy demand to soar from the current 208 MW installed capacity to a projected 570 MW by June 2024,” said Minister Musoni.
“Together, we have reached an important milestone in the development and implementation of this project,” said Chad Bannick, CEO of DC HydroPower. “As developers and investors in the energy sector, we are thankful to be part of Rwanda’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gasses and provide clean, renewable energy to the people of Rwanda.”
Power Africa Coordinator Andrew Herscowitz congratulated the groundbreaking of the project by stating, “This deal shows how the private sector and government can work together in Rwanda to get a deal across the finish line. The Rwaza 1 Hydropower Plant is another example of how the private sector can drive power generation and development throughout Africa.”
The construction of this new hydropower plant directly supports the Rwandan Government’s goal of providing 70 percent of the population with access to electricity by 2018 and advance the objectives of Power Africa (U.S. Government-led electricity access initiative) and KfW (Germany’s government-owned development bank) in addressing one of the most pressing challenges to sustainable economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa – access to reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity.
“Rwanda needs more energy. And Germany believes in the future of clean and affordable energy. This project can be a perfect role model to link these needs and aspirations. As discussed at the G20 recently, we see the necessity to discuss innovative financing solutions. This project would fit perfectly into the new development approach. The German government’s bank, KfW, established “rAREH”, an investment fund to develop and operate renewable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. This fund is open for private investors to join us, to multiply funds,” said the German Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Peter Woeste.
Rwaza I is a 2.6 megawatt run-of-the-river hydropower plant located in the Rwaza Sector on the Mukungwa River, in Musanze District. The firm DC HydroPower identified and developed the project through the feasibility stage and the signing of a power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy Group. The firms Frontier Energy and ResponsAbility Renewable Energy Holding joined DC HydroPower as investment partners during the final stages of development.
Construction of the plant began in January 2017 and is expected to last 18 months, after which the plant will be operational. Rwaza 1, along with the nearby 4 megawatt Nyundo hydropower plant, received assistance from U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) —a Power Africa partner agency—during the development phase to complete the feasibility study. The Nyundo project is being developed by Amahoro Energy, a Rwandan company with US investors formed to electrify the Shyira Hospital, which serves more than 300,000 people, and is expected to commence construction on October 2017 and reach commercial operations by December 2018.