Rwanda to improve electricity supply with $266 million loan

The African Development Bank has approved a loan of US$266 million to the government of Rwanda in order to expand electricity access and transmission lines across the country.

Rwanda is a relatively small country considering its neighbours on the African continent. It has a population of 12 million but only 41% of Rwandans actually have access to electricity encouraging them out of poverty.

The government has set an ambitious target of installing and distributing enough power to all of its citizens by 2024. As it stands, Rwanda only has 209MW of installed electricity capacity.

The additional funding from the African Development Bank will help to construct an additional 8,000km of transmission lines, boosting connectivity across the country and pushing the country towards universal access.

In addition to national grid improvements, the money will also enable the government to give on-grid power for the first time to 193,000 households, and off-grid power to 124,000 other households.

Giving Rwandans electricity is a way of reducing the poverty rate even further from the significant improvements in recent years. In 2014 the poverty rate reduced from 44% in 2011 to 39%.

The World Bank supports Rwanda on its energy, agriculture and transport sectors, but yet they refuse to fund fossil fuel base-load power plants.

Rwanda is only a small country; with the introduction of one or two small ultra-supercritical coal power plants, the country would reach 100% electrification within a matter of years, not decades.

The $266 million injection of cash into the Rwandan national grid is welcome, but more needs to be done in order to generate more electricity for all Rwandans.

Focus should be placed on energy generation over renewable energy in the first instance; a healthy energy mix is vital, but 100% universal access to electricity should be the number one priority in order to transform Rwanda into a middle-income economy.