Building capacity to help Africa trade better

African govts urged to harmonise energy laws to attract investments


African govts urged to harmonise energy laws to attract investments

African govts urged to harmonise energy laws to attract investments
Photo credit: Timothy Kisambira

African governments have been urged to harmonise regulatory and legal frameworks to attract more investors into the continent’s energy sector.

Kipyego Cheluget, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) assistant secretary general for programmes, said uniform laws could play a big role in attracting more energy investors to drive Africa’s generation and distribution capacity.

Speaking during the opening of the 3rd iPAD Rwanda Energy Infrastructure summit in Kigali, yesterday, Cheluget cited the COMESA region, saying it lacks investments in the energy and infrastructure sectors, generally, despite the increasing demand for power in the bloc.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we expedite policies that will attract investments into the energy sector to facilitate trade and development on the continent,” he said.

He added that the region’s energy potential currently stands at more than 110,000MW, and yet the current installed capacity is still under 55,000MW.

The two-day iPAD summit has brought together over 500 energy experts, investors and policy-makers to deliberate on strategies to increase energy generation, distribution and supply in the most “efficient and effective” ways.

Jean-Bosco Mugiraneza, the Rwanda Energy Group chief executive officer, called for strengthening of public-private partnerships, saying this is critical to attract more funding to the energy sector to boost its capacity.

Rwanda’s installed power generation capacity stands at 190MW, against a target of 563MW by 2018. The country is also targeting to increase connectivity to more than 70 per cent of the population by the same time under the rural electrification strategy.

Of this, at least 48 per cent of the households will be either connected to the national grid to a large off-grid renewable energy source, while 22 per cent will be served by small off-grid power source.

Currently, the country’s hydro electricity generation capacity accounts for 97.37MW, thermal power is at 51.7MW, methane is 3.6MW, while 8.75MW is produced from solar energy. Other efforts to increase power supply include importing 30 megawatts from Kenya – expected by end of 2016 – and another 400 megawatts from Ethiopia by 2018.

However, experts believe, achieving the targets will require more financing and strategic policies and partnerships.

Speaking at the event, Lars Akerlind, from Sweden-based Eltel Network, called for clear strategies and transparent policies to attract new investors and funding into the sector and boosting power generation and, hence ensuring reliable power operations.

He noted that clear laws are key to improve the business environment for investors and energy developers.

The electricity access countrywide today stands at 25 per cent and the remaining 75 per cent use other sources of energy for lighting, most of which are unsafe and unhealthy such as kerosene.

Embracing off grid solutions

Meanwhile, energy experts called for more resources to be invested into off-grid and renewable energy solutions to boost access to energy.

The experts argue that more investments in renewable energy will increase Rwanda’s energy generation capacity and connectivity, which will, in turn, translate into a faster and more sustainable economic growth.

Rwanda joins global UN energy initiative

Rwanda has officially become part of a global universal energy initiative, dubbed “Sustainable Energy For All,” a United Nations-led initiative geared toward actions and commitments to positively transform the world’s energy systems. The decision was made, yesterday, during the iPAD Summit in Kigali.

The initiative was launched globally in 2012 by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in recognition of the growing importance of energy for economic development and climate change mitigation.

At the local level, the initiative aims at scaling up access to energy, promoting the use of clean cooking technologies, increasing use of renewable sources of energy for electricity production as well as efficient use of energy.

Giving highlights of the initiative’s implementation, Robert Nyamvumba, the energy division manager at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said, by implementing the global initiative, Rwanda would seek to address issues in gender, health and energy access.

He said its implementation is also in line with the national rural electrification strategy that was approved by Cabinet this year.

The initiative will attempt to address the high dependence on biomass fuels in the country and reduce from the current 85 per cent use to about 50 per cent by 2020 while the target is under 30 per cent by 2030, Nyamvumba added.

This will largely lead to the promotion of clean cooking technologies which are increasingly cheaper due to tax reliefs.

According to the Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni, the Government will promote the use of liquefied petroleum gas, which is currently cheaper than charcoal.

“Gas use is already cheaper than use of charcoal though most people are unaware. Going forward, we will seek ways to have it in more different sizes and packages of cylinders to make it affordable for more people as well as improved cooking stoves,” the minister said.

On electricity generation and production, Nyamvumba reiterated that they aim at increasing production by 2018 as well as step up contribution of renewable energy such as geothermal and solar through off grid and mini grid.

The share that is non-renewable will be from peat and methane gas with the two constituting around 30 per cent.

“On energy efficiency, we want to reduce energy losses and step up efficient use through measures such as energy reduction lamps as well as address concern such as aspects of indoor pollution from cooking,” he said.

Rwanda has an electricity penetration rate of about 27 per cent with grid solutions contributing a majority of 25 per cent, while non-grid solutions contribute 2 per cent.

With the government targetting 563 megawatts by 2018, the country is currently generating about 190 megawatts.

Rwanda Energy Group chief executive Jean Bosco Mugiraneza said the agency targets to reach 70 per cent of the population and 100 per cent of government institutions by 2018.

This, he said, creates a huge room for private public partnership to boost local capacities and make necessary investments towards the ambitions.

Mugiraneza added that they plan to continue working with off-grid power solutions to continuously ensure access to power.

Already, there are more than 10 players in the off-grid power solutions provision operating in the country.

Kipyego Cheluget said Rwanda is likely to achieve the targets given the huge resource allocations by the government to the sector, the existing policies to attract investments as well as participation in regional integration initiatives.


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