By Aimable Twahirwa,KIGALI (AfricaSTI)
The first sophisticated micro hydropower plant, without a dam, has resumed operation on Musarara, a stream which run across the northern Rwanda where it will generate 438KW of power to around 2000 residents and its neighboring development infrastructures including hospital and health centers, an official source revealed to the AfricaSTI correspondent in Kigali.
The launching of this micro hydropower plant, the first of its kind inaugurated in Rwanda is part of the initiative undertaken by the Global Village Energy partnership (GVEP), a UK registered non-profit organisation that aims to increase access to modern energy to reduce poverty in developing countries.
Within its intervention in Rwanda, the UK based NGO emphasizes to work hand-in hand with local entrepreneurs and advise them on how to raise finance as a way to develop long term and trusted business relationships between local people and local businesses.
Energy authorities and the country’s Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi had then said that construction was to be completed in the beginning of August 2012 but the construction work went so fast as it was planned.
It is said that the primary focus of this project was energy access whereby GVEP implement programmes and interventions which help energy businesses grow and satisfy the local energy need.
This has been done through providing advice and support on the most appropriate technology such as knowledge, access and understanding in order to stimulate growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the energy economy, says a news release issued by organization.
The micro hydropower plant of Musarara which uses water channeled through two miles long, 6.3m diameter concrete tunnel bowered through chains of mountains to generate 438KW, was constructed as part of loan guarantee fund in Africa encouraging the flow of credit by underwriting loans to energy businesses.
According to the sustainable market advisor at GVEP international, David Disch, the move to expand power production in Rwanda – private investment lending by financial institutions is because the government of Rwanda has highlighted expanding electricity access and private sector investment in electricity generation as areas of high priority.
On the African continent, GVEP investment and expertise has created approximately 500 new jobs and an estimated 1 million people now have improved access to clean energy, whether that’s through purchasing a more efficient cooking stove or a solar powered device to charge their mobile phone or buying and using briquettes for fuel, the statement said.
Supported by a steep elevation, two long metal penstocks at Musarara river pour the water from the tunnel in the mid-height of a mountain down to the turbines at the bottom, increasing the turbine circulation and allowing the generation of more power.
Located around 50 kilometers from Kigali in the northern region of Rwanda, Musarara micro hydropower plant was constructed under the expertise of the Global Village Energy partnership (GVEP) to stimulate job of small-scale developers through helping them access finance in the energy sector.
It was one of the main hydropower plants which was launched since 2007 in Rwanda, but later failed to be completed since their costly work in the tunnel took long, leading to unannounced power shedding for months in the tiny Central African nation.
The Rwandan government, facing an energy crisis, has invested in diversifying its sources, particularly by shifting to renewable energy, which will cover at least 60 per cent of the country’s energy consumption by 2020.
Firewood remains the main source of energy in the country, particularly in rural areas, with about 93 per cent of the population of this small Central African country heavily depending on this natural resource.
Official statistics show that at least 80 per cent of the electricity generated in Rwanda, mainly by hydroelectric dams, are distributed in the city of Kigali and its vicinity, where only five per cent of the Rwandan population live.
GVEP’s ambition is that by 2016 it will have given 15 million people access to clean and reliable energy across the African continent.