Rwanda: MPs raise concerns over power for manufacturing companies

By The New Times

0

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade have expressed concerns over the issue of inconsistent energy supply and hefty power tariffs which they said were affecting the
productivity and advancement of manufacturing companies in the country.

The MPs were speaking at a meeting with the Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, and
officials from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Wednesday during which they discussed the findings from the lawmakers’ field trip that saw them traverse all the districts of the country to review the
progress of industries.

The Chairperson of the Committee, MP Adolphe Bazatoha, said their field trip had taken them to all the
districts around the country, where they visited agro-processing plants, animal feeds plants,
pharmaceutical plants, pesticides factories, food processing plants, construction equipment plants and
those that make laboratory equipment.

They also visited Prime Economic Zone Limited, the managers of Kigali Special Economic Zone, to assess the challenges that they face.

The lawmaker said that, besides other issues, the one that stood out the most was one of electricity
supply, something that he said most industrialists blamed for making them lag behind.

“The main issue that is being faced by manufacturing companies in general is that of electricity where
they complained about the lack of consistency in the supply and the expensive tariffs in the end causing
the businesses big losses,” he said.

Bazatoha also pointed out the issue of raw materials with some investors only being able to be productive during the peak harvest season while others are always searching, limiting the plants from producing to their capacity.

Minister Munyeshyaka acknowledged the issue, noting that in his own visits, he had discovered that 65 per cent of local factories were dependent on electricity.

“The issue of electricity is one that we are aware of and we have a strategy to deal with it. We are
looking at consistency but also prices because when you, for instance, visit factories like CIMERWA, they
tell you that 65 per cent of what they do requires electricity. I visited the factory that makes iron
bars in Bugesera and they told me that when electricity goes off, they lose 30 per cent of what they have
to produce for the day because they are required to start the process afresh,” he said.

Munyeshyaka also said that the process to fix the power issue was already rolling with his ministry
engaging several stakeholders on the best way forward.

“We have discussed with the Ministry of Infrastructure and agreed that the electricity network is old and
requires to be replaced and we have already started fixing that. We are also trying to make sure that
each industrial area has its own specific electricity channel so that the factories have enough
electricity to function as required,” he said.

He said the ministry had suggested to Rwanda Energy Group to develop a way that would inform its clients of power rationing so that those with work that requires electricity are in the know and are able to plan their production accordingly.

RDB’s Head of Special Economic Zones Regulatory Authority, Naphtal Kazoora, said a plan was being worked out to fix the issue of maintenance in economic zones or economic parks. He specifically pointed out the Kigali Special Economic Zone, which he said was undergoing a study that will help those operating in the area to share costs.

“The developer of the area, Prime Economic Zone, is supposed to be selling electricity and water but
instead, utilities are selling to users directly. We are involving REG which will do a study and come up
with all the necessary information, including prices of what each business should pay. It will be a pool
of REG, WASAC, Road Maintenance Fund, CCTV companies and anyone who has anything installed there so that the cost is shared to help bring down pressure on those that are operating from the area,” he said.

Currently, consumers with large manufacturing companies pay Rwf83 per kilowatt, those with medium
industries Rwf90 per kilowatt, while the small ones pay Rwf126 per kilowatt.