Rwanda’s efforts to increase electricity access received a major boost recently when the country secured $265-million to finance the construction of distribution facilities.
The funds, secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB), will support the construction of 795 km of medium-voltage and 7 317 km of low-voltage power lines, which will boost nationwide connectivity and light up previously unserved communities.
The programme is expected to result in significant reductions in the duration and frequency of service interruption to customers and network losses, and will ultimately contribute to ensuring the financial sustainability of the country’s energy sector.
The financing is intended to support the East African nation’s programme to improve electricity supply and expand access to electricity under the Scaling Up Electricity Access Programme Phase II.
“The approved programme will enable government to add over 193 000 new on-grid and over 124 000 off-grid connections,” says AfDB power, energy, climate change and green growth VP Amadou Hott.
The funds will be channelled to the Energy Development Corporation and the Energy Utility Corporation, both of which are subsidiaries of Rwanda Energy Group, the government-owned utility that manages the country’s energy infrastructure. The loan is aligned with the AfDB’s ten-year strategy (2013 to 2022) and current Country Strategy Paper for Rwanda. It also supports three of the bank’s High 5 priorities, namely Light Up and Power Africa, Industrialise Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
He adds that the bank’s intervention will improve the reliability of electricity supply, increase on-grid and off-grid access to renewable energy for households and commercial customers and strengthen institutional capacity to deliver on the ambitious energy programme.
Over the past seven years, access to electricity in Rwanda has more than doubled, from 18% to 44% at the end of June. The growth is in line with Rwanda’s strong commitment to achieving universal electricity access by 2024 using a combination of on-grid and off-grid solutions like solar home systems.
The AfDB’s latest funding of Rwanda’s energy sector builds on the successful implementation of the Scaling Up Electricity Access Programme approved in 2013, amounting to $46 million.
The AfDB financing comes barely a month after Rwanda received $27-million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to improve substations and the electricity distribution network.
With the economy growing at a yearly rate of about 8% in recent years, Rwanda is unable to meet the demand for power, which is growing at more than 10% a year.