Rwanda hikes electricity rates amidst regional energy crisis

James Sano, CEO of Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC)

James Sano, CEO of Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC)

Rwanda has increasing the cost of electricity and water at the time when the country is facing a water crisis and consistent shortages of power.

Electricity charges have been increased by 35 percent per kilowatt, while water prices are up 19 per cent according to a recent announcement by the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA).

This means that the price of electricity will go up from Rwf134 per Kilowatt/hour to Rwf182 per kilowatt/hour, while the industrial rates will remain at Rwf126 per kilowatt/hour.

The RURA said that “the decision to raise household electricity rates and to leave industrial rates intact is designed to attract more investments.”

James Sano, the CEO of Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), said the hike in water rates was a result of cost of maintenance but these can be reviewed, however many Rwandans have mixed feelings about the increases in basic utilities.

“We have not had water on our taps since 2014. Instead of the government addressing the shortages, its making things worse and this will continue affecting our incomes and expenditures since we still buy water from far” resident of Nyamirambo, a Kigali city suburb told Afrika Reporter.

Soaring electricity rates come at a time when Rwandans especially residents in major cities like Kigali complain of regular blackouts.

“Power shortages in the past have been common in Uganda, but now we are also facing the same problem,” Jackson Kabuye a longtime Kigali resident said.

Compared to other countries in the region, Rwandans pay higher prices for electricity.

Energy experts meeting in Kigali for a regional energy conference earlier this week have resolved to put in place a comprehensive energy security policy with a view to enable the generation of affordable and reliable supply of electricity.

While the demand of electricity among the East African Community (EAC) countries remains high, none of the EAC countries has managed to provide electricity to more than 25 percent of their respective populations.

Kenya and Rwanda lead the EAC region in population access to electricity at 23 percent and Rwanda seeks to increase its power capacity to 563 megawatts by 2017 from the current 160 megawatts, but Uganda staggers with 16 percent access while Tanzania has 14 percent and less than three percent in Burundi.

In the meantime the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) boss, Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, has been arrested over allegations of corruption and favoritism, vices that have contributed to poor service by the body.

Sources in the REG indicate that the company has been hiring on acquaintance basis insisted of technical expertise and merit.

These malpractices have been affecting service delivery as non-performing or corrupt staff are not reprimanded, inside sources say.

Rwanda Energy Group was created after the splitting of the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) and it has two subsidiaries; the Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) and Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) that are responsible for energy retailing and development, respectively.

Even with these reforms and decentralization, residents voice complaints of total inefficiency.

“It takes over three months to procure an electricity meter box and the procedure even gets aggravating with the insane queues at the service station,” a concern resident told Afrika Reporter.