Who Really Owns The Rwanda Energy Group?

The Kagame government’s concession agreement with REG to takeover Rwanda’s power plants (left) and Ron Weiss (right), an Israeli national who became REG’s CEO in 2018.

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:

  1. Nyabarongo Power plant;
  2. Jabana I Thermal Power Plant;
  3. Jabana II Thermal Power Plant;
  4. Mukungwa I Hydro Power Plant;
  5. Ntaruka Hydro Power Plant;
  6. Nshili Micro Hydro Power Plan;
  7. Nyabahanga Micro Hydro Power Plant;
  8. 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.