Rwanda's current electricity consumption stands at approximately 7.46 watts per person, a figure that is significantly lower than the global average of 412 watts per person. Of this electricity, over half is generated from low-carbon sources, with hydropower accounting for the lion's share at 3.82 watts per person, and solar adding another half a watt. Fossil fuel-based generation, on the other hand, contributes close to 3 watts per person. Stated plainly, Rwanda's overall electricity generation is very low, starkly underscoring the country's underdeveloped energy sector. This paucity of electricity generation can hamper economic growth and initiatives aimed at improving living standards, given that electricity is key to many developmental facets, from bolstering healthcare and education to powering industry and supporting modern lifestyles. Compounding this issue is the fact that almost 3.5% of Rwanda's electricity consumption is met through net imports, an arrangement that can leave the country vulnerable to supply disruptions.
To boost its low-carbon electricity generation, Rwanda can glean insights from countries that have been successful in this regard. By leveraging its geographical and climatic attributes, Rwanda can look to increase its hydropower look and invest more in solar, much like Australia, which generates around 147 watts/person from solar. It is also worth noting that wind energy been successfully harnessed by numerous countries. For instance, Denmark and Sweden generate close to 370 and 360 watts per person respectively from wind. While nuclear energy has been successful in Sweden, France, and Finland, Rwanda's current capacity and resources may not support such a venture immediately, but it can certainly be a long-term goal once the necessary infrastructure is developed.
As for the past, Rwanda's history of low-carbon electricity generation is dominated by hydropower. From the mid-1990s until today, there have been minimal fluctuations in the amount of electricity generated from hydropower, which is currently the country's main source of low-carbon energy. After a minor setback in 1996, hydropower generation slightly increased in 1997, only to decline again in 1999. In the first two decades of the 21st century, there were no considerable changes until slight increases were recorded in 2014 and 2015. Following a steady pattern until 2019, an increment has been observed again, but surprisingly, 2021 saw a minor slump. These fluctuations, though not significant, indicate the potential instability of relying too heavily on hydropower and underscore the need for diversifying Rwanda's energy mix.