Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is advocating for investment in renewable energy as the continent grapples with a lack of electricity for economic transformation.

Kagame, who on Thursday was invited to commission a 140MW at Olkaria 1 Geothermal plant in Naivasha, Kenya, is pushing East African countries to invest in energy as an essential driver of economic development.

“European countries are producing more electricity than Africa… what are they doing with their electricity that we can’t do?” he said.

“This project that has been opened to start producing electricity is important not only to Kenya, but to Rwanda and East Africa,” Kagame said of Naivasha power plant.

Kagame said it’s time Africa began a debate to address energy challenges on the continent and suggested governments to engage the private sector.

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“The debate is about having sufficient electricity to power industry, school, homes and the whole economy as it should be… we need to have a conversation between government and business,” he said.

He said no one should dictate to the other.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “I am proud to be associated with President Kagame and others who have demonstrated willingness to the progress of our region.”

Early this year, Rwanda signed an agreement with Kenya to import 30MW as part of adding up to 70MW to be connected to the national grid this year.

Infrastructure Minister, James Musoni, said the electricity will be connected to the national grid by October 2015.

Rwanda’s current power generation capacity is 160MW. The country targets to have 563MW by 2018.

The electricity will be channeled through Uganda. “We are waiting for a transmission line in Uganda expected to be complete by September this year,” Minister Musoni told KT Press.

The 30MW imported from Kenya, to be connected to the national grid, will cost Rwanda US$3.3M every month. This is part of the 40MW the country plans to generate this year, Musoni said.

“We plan to generate 25MW from Kivu methane gas and 15MW from Gishoma power project, all to be connected to the national grid by July this year,” he said.

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