Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, along with Rwandan Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente, will be attending the launch of Omnicane’s hydropower plant in that country on June 26, dubbed the Mushishito-Rukarara hydropower plant. The launch will take place as Pravind Jugnauth will be in Rwanda to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held in the country’s capital Kigali as from June 24.
The project to build the 5 Megawatt (MW) plant, located at the intersection of the Mushishito and Rukarara rivers, began in 2015 with the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) acting as lender to the project. Construction began in July 2017. The Mauritian conglomerate Omnicane, which owns 98% of Omnihydro (Rwanda) Ltd, signed a power purchase agreement with Rwanda’s Energy Utility Corporation Ltd (EUCL). Phase I of the project, which produces 2 MW of power, was completed in 2019 and is currently supplying power to Rwanda’s national grid, and phase 2 will see another 3 MW supplied to Rwanda’s national energy grid by the end of the year. Under the terms of the deal, Omnihydro will run the 5 MW plant for 25 years.
Omnicane’s hydro power project comes as part of Rwanda’s push for renewable energy in recent years. Right now, 55% of Rwanda’s energy comes from renewable sources, out of which 78% is dominated by hydro-power. Rwanda already has 37 hydro power plants connected to its national grid, containing a mix of state-owned plants, as well as privately-owned independent power producers. The country also operated 11 privately owned micro hydro power plants that do not supply power nationally, but within isolated local pockets. Omnicane states that its 5 MW plant, once fully operational, would reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 14,500 metric tons each year and is planned to power, on average, 175,000 Rwandan households.
The move comes as Mauritius is eager to develop closer economic ties with African states. It officially established diplomatic ties with Rwanda in 2001 and since then, the country has signed a double taxation avoidance agreement and a bilateral investment promotion treaty with Kigali. Although bilateral trade between the two states is not big, both are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which aims to boost intra-regional trade within the region and exempts goods from customs duties.