By David Himbara
On December 5, 2017, the Rwandan cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame signed what was termed a “Concession Agreement” withRwanda Energy Group (REG). REG comprises two companies — namely, Energy Utilities Corporation (EUCL) and Energy Development Corporation (EDCL). The concession allows REG “to operate, manage and maintain the government-owned power plants.” The plants in question are as follows:
- Nyabarongo Power plant;
- Jabana I Thermal Power Plant;
- Jabana II Thermal Power Plant;
- Mukungwa I Hydro Power Plant;
- Ntaruka Hydro Power Plant;
- Nshili Micro Hydro Power Plan;
- Nyabahanga Micro Hydro Power Plant;
- Gatsata Thermal Power Plant.
This concession signed the government and REG raises several questions, including the following:
- Is REG not the Rwanda government’s own utility company in charge of electricity generation and distribution?
- When REG replaced the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) in 2013, did the new company not retain all power plants in Rwanda?
- How then does the government of Rwanda sign a concession agreement between itself and a company it wholly owns?
- Finally, if REG is not a government entity, who owns it then?
Kagame signed a concession with Rwanda Energy group (REG) to allow REG to take over Rwanda’s electricity sector. Somebody help. Something is not right here. Normally, a concession means the granting of exclusive rights by a government to a private company for an agreed period. The private company then carries out a service (such as for example running an airport or a toll road) and pays a rent or a certain percentage of earnings to the government. This is the first time I hear of a government signing a concession with its own public company. Or perhaps I am behind times — REG is not a government entity. Rwanda never fails to surprise.