Will Israel Electric Corporation Fix Kagame’s Energy Shambles? Germany’s Lahmayer International Tried And Failed

Ron Weiss, Kagame's new man who will fix electricity shambles

By David Himbara

In Kagame’s Rwanda 73 percent of the population, or 8 million people DO NOT has electricity. The 27 percent of Rwandans that have modern power are mostly in Kigali and other urban areas. Only 9 percent of rural Rwandans have electricity. According to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), there were 581,615 electricity subscribers in Rwanda in June 2016 (table).

RURA data, June 2016

But if you listen to the political rhetoric, you might be misled to believe that access to electricity is sharply increasing. Look at the rhetoric of the past 7 years.

In 2010, the Kagame regime announced that Rwanda would produce 1,000 MW by 2017. The then Prime Minister Bernard Makuza put it like this:

“We intend to increase…the use of clean water by 100 percent and energy production from the current 70 to 1,000 megawatts.”

In 2013, the then Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi repeated the same thing in parliament that by 2017 Rwanda would generate 1,000 megawatts of power. We are now in 2017, with 208 Megawatts 20 percent of which is lost due to old transmission infrastructure. The energy sector remains shambolic.

Having lowered the expectations and saying that 560 Megawatts will be available in 2018, the regime has made changes lately. In May 2017 Kagame brought in Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to fix the mess. This is not the first time Kagame has done this before. Back in 2003 he brought in Lahmayer International from Germany which he kicked out before completing the job. Here are the highlights of Kagame’s crazy changes in the national utilities from 2003 to 2017. The results speak for themselves:

  • 2003: Kagame places ELECTROGAZ placed under a management contract with Lahmayer International to manage and restructure water and electricity in collaboration with Hamburg Water Works for 5 years.
  • 2006: March, Kagame dumps Lahmayer International well ahead of the expiration of the management contract.
  • 2008: Kagame splits ELECTROGAZ into Rwanda Electricity Corporation (RECO) and Rwanda Water and Sanitation Corporation (RWASCO).
  • 2010: Kagame merges RECO and RWASCO again into Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA).
  • 2014: Kagame splits water and energy responsibilities again into Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) and Rwanda Energy Group (REG) for electricity. REG was given two subsidiaries, namely, the Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) and the Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL).
  • 2015: Kagame brings in the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), in particular, Ron Weiss, IEC Senior Vice-President for Engineering Projects & Business Development. Via a Memorandum of Understanding, the Israelis would build capacity at REG.
  • 2017: May, Kagame hands REG to Ron Weiss who takes leave from Israel Electric Corporation to become REG’s CEO.
Weiss takes over at REG

So where are we now? Will IEC fix the shambles? Or or will it fall victim to Kagame’s dictator management style as did Germany’s Lahmeyer International?

Stay tuned.