Ambassador’s Remarks on the Inauguration Ceremony for Kivuwatt Power Plant

Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles

Your Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda;

Honorable Minister of Infrastructure James Musoni;

President and CEO of ContourGlobal Joseph Brandt;

Country Director of ContourGlobal Jarmo Gummerus

Governor of Western Province Caritas Mukandasira

Mayor of Karongi District Francois Ndayisaba

Local Officials, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, all Protocols Observed.

I am very honored to join you today to inaugurate ContourGlobal’s Kivuwatt 25 megawatt methane gas-to-power plant.  I am extremely proud of the work that this American company has done over the past few years to complete this project and reach full commercial operation.  It is truly a remarkable feat of engineering and persistence that has helped turn on the lights for nearly 45,000 Rwandan households.

By demonstrating that the methane gas from Lake Kivu can be harvested on a commercial scale, through a bankable gas-to-energy project, ContourGlobal has also paved the way for future projects that will bring even more electricity to Rwanda.  One of those projects is the expansion of ContourGlobal’s own investment in Rwanda through Phase II of Kivuwatt, which will add an additional 75 megawatts to Rwanda’s grid.  That is enough electricity to bring an addition 150,000 Rwandan households on the grid and to expand existing capacity by an additional 50%!

ContourGlobal’s efforts have proven the science and engineering work on a large scale.  This has lowered the risk for other companies both in Rwanda and in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has also lowered the cost of financing for future projects so that they can be brought on line faster and more cheaply to harness this unique energy resource.

Rwanda has set an ambitious goal to reach electrical generation capacity of 563 Megawatts by mid-2018.  And Rwanda has set an equally ambitious goal to increase access for its citizens to reliable electricity from the current rate of 23 percent to 70 percent in the same timeframe.  This integrated model includes both on-grid and off-grid components and a clear role for the private sector.  This model is already delivering results and the United States is committed to working with Rwanda to help continue this progress.

In June 2013, President Barack Obama launched Power Africa, a partnership among the U.S. Government, African governments, bilateral and multilateral development partners, and the private sector to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa — establishing new electrical connections for 60 million African households and adding 30,000 megawatts of new generation capacity across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

Now in its third year, Power Africa has built the financial and human resource foundation, recruited the partners, and identified specific deal flow to facilitate a clear path to success. We are now partnering with more than 120 public and private sector entities to accelerate power transactions in sub-Saharan Africa.

The United States’ initial $7 billion dollar commitment has leveraged nearly $43 billion in commitments from the public and private sectors, including more than $31 billion in commitments from our private sector partners. Our public sector partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank Group (WBG), the Government of Sweden, and the European Union (EU) have collectively committed nearly $12 billion in support of sustainable energy activities across the region.

The U.S. Embassy in Kigali is proud to be a strong partner in Power Africa and we are engaged with the private sector and Rwandan government to help Rwanda achieve a dramatic increase in access to clean, reliable electricity.  We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the private sector, development partners, and the Rwandan government to deliver access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity through both traditional and creative methods.

While I am proud of the progress we have made over the past couple of years, including through projects such as Kivuwatt here today, Gigawatt Global – East Africa’s first grid-connected solar field – and additional hydro and solar projects with a number of partners delivering innovative off-grid solutions, I am very excited about future projects that will come online soon.   These include not only additional methane-to-electricty production but also micro-hydro projects that can deliver impact investments to communities in a short time to meet immediate energy needs.

So today’s success with Kivuwatt is part of a broader effort to dramatically increase generation and access to power in Rwanda and across Africa.  Whether through developing better financing tools, improving transmission and power sharing arrangements, or sharing best practices for Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), Power Africa is a strong partner in helping Rwanda pursue the necessary policies and reforms needed to attract further private investment.

I also want to make a final point about this project and about the impact investment U.S. firms are leading here in Rwanda and throughout the region.  Like so many American companies, ContourGlobal represents the “gold standard” around the world when it comes to the quality of products, reliability of service and development of local staff.  You set the standard in labor practices and local training with skills transfer and job creation here in Kibuye.  This high standard, which includes important on-the-job training for Rwandans, is what sets U.S. companies such as ContourGlobal apart from competitors in the region.  We are not only helping Rwanda turn on the lights, but we are training Rwandans to keep those lights on, and providing them with the knowledge and tools to expand job creation in their communities, and build their future.

I look forward to seeing even more U.S. companies work hand-in-hand with our Rwandan partners to develop innovative projects to provide needed power to Rwanda’s people and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thank you very much for taking time to join us in this celebration!   Murakoze cyane.