By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame is without doubt the chief architect of energy poverty in Rwanda. Under his watch for over two decades, Rwanda’s 12 million people have to make do with 216 Megawatts of electriciy. And 216 Megawatts is what is produced in theory. In reality, 21% of electricity is lost due to a variety of reasons, not least dilapidated transmission infrastructure. That leaves approximately 171 Megawatts to supply a population of 12 million.
The Kagame regime’s own statistics best demonstrate Rwanda’s extreme energy poverty. As of December 2017, the number of electricity consumers using on-grid energy was 718,311 versus 162,154 for off-grid customers — a total of 880,465. In other words, the number of electricity consumers in Rwanda is far less than a million in a country of 12 million. This is how Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) puts it:
”The total number of on-grid subscribers increased from 683,817 customers recorded in the third quarter 2017 to 718,311 customers recorded in the fourth quarter of the year 2017…The number of off-grid customers increased from 142,194 customers recorded in the third quarter 2017 to 162,154 customers in the fourth quarter of the year 2017.”
An even more shocking story is how the existing meager supply of electricity is hopelessly mismanaged. The latest auditor general’s report illustrates not only the incompetence but the criminality of the Kagame regime with regards to electricity. Here are the disgusting highlights:
”The audit of The Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) identified that there are no proper records maintained to track costs for each project under construction and to support costs accumulated for each project. Consequently, EDCL was unable to provide necessary support documents to support a balance of Frw 171,063,717,470 reported as costs of works-in-progress in financial statements at 30 June 2016.”
In other words, Rwanda’s national electricity company cannot account for $200 million. How in the world is this possible?
There are more depressing facts in the auditor general’s report
A shockingly high amount of electricity is still lost thereby further increasing energy poverty. Hydropower plants produce half their capacity, forcing the regime to resort to costly thermal solutions. Here are more highlights from the auditor general’s report:
- 21.1% of electricity produced is lost. This is not new – 21.18% power losses were reported in auditor general’s previous reports. The leakages arise from technical problems associated with old infrastructure, unbilled electricity, and electricity theft.
- In other words, 21% of 216 Megawatts (or 45 Megawatts) is lost due to old transmission infrastructure which means that available electricity in Rwanda is 171 Megawatts.
- Rwanda continues to use expensive power from Thermal power plants while hydropower plants are operating below-installed capacity.
- Of the existing 33 power plants at 30 June 2016, only 6 power plants operating at more than 50% of their installed capacity.
- 27 power plants operated below installed capacity.
- 5 power plants are not generating electricity — Nshiri, Gashashi, Nyabahanga, Nyirabuhombohombo and Gatsata.
- Due to the crisis, thermal power of 25MW was procured during the year to boost power supply for factory activities at the Kigali Special Economic Zone.
What kind of a leadership runs Rwanda? Who is in charge of a country of 12 million among whom only 880,465 have access to electricity? And to think that Kagame is celebrated as a visionary transformative leader of Rwanda who is also reforming the African Union. And yet the people of Rwanda must make do with a miserable 171 Megawatts of electricity. Give the man a medal for being the chief architect of energy poverty that still traps most of his compatriots into darkness.