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Cost of power to remain high as Rusumo project drags on

Thursday October 28 2021
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The Rusumo hydropower project is expected to ease power cost pressures with an additional 26.6 megawatts injection into the national grid upon completion. PHOTO | NELSAP

By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE

Businesses will take longer to access affordable and reliable electricity due to delays in completion of the 80 megawatt Rusumo power project.

For instance, currently, residential consumers in the 15 to 50 kilowatt per month power consumption range saw cost per kilowatt increase from Rwf182 to Rwf212, while those above 50 kilowatts have since paid Rwf249 from Rwf210.

Non-residential customers under 100 kilowatts per month consumption block pay Rwf227, and Rwf255 when consumption is above 100 kilowatts per month.

Hotels have been paying Rwf157 per kilowatt, an increase from Rwf126. Small and large industries pay between Rwf134 and Rwf94 per kilowatt respectively from Rwf110 and Rwf80 previously.

The tariff for medium industries rose to Rwf103 from Rwf84.

While Minister for Infrastructure Claver Gatete insists that works would be completed by December for commissioning to take place, he was not commital when asked about timelines for power to come to the grid.

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“I can’t be specific on the time. Our wish is to have all construction works completed for commission and testing to take place in the shortest time possible. As soon as these are done people will have power,” Mr Gatete told Rwanda Today during a recent tour of the project site by the three countries’ officials.

Previous power generation under thermal, methane gas power plants, among others so far, did little to bring down power costs as power plants operated below capacity and inefficiencies led to power losses.

“We kept the promise that one day a reduction will take effect when power from projects like the methane gas and one of Rusumo come on board. It hasn’t materialized yet. It now requires one to only serve clients who order in bulk because of high power bills associated with switching the machines,” said Bernard Matabaro, managing director of Rwanda Plastic Industries.

“In most instances one cannot just manufacture stock because it would result in loss producing at such high power tariff when there is no ready market to be able to clear the bills.”

Figures from individual manufacturers suggest that energy costs alone account for between 20 to 30 per cent of the total cost of production and this puts them at a disadvantage of imported goods.

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