01 November 2014, Kigali – At least 50,000 households in six districts in the Eastern Province have been connected to national electric grid, officials have said. The districts are Kirehe, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Ngoma, Gatsibo and Nyagatare.
The $68 million energy project was carried out by Rwanda Energy Group (previously under the former Energy Water and Sanitation Authority), in partnership with private firms.
This was disclosed during a validation workshop on the socio-economic impact of the electrification project held in Rwamagana yesterday.
The project was implemented between 2009 and 2013.
Epimak Rutingama, a social economist who studied the impact of the project on the six districts, said benefits were mostly in the areas of income-generation, health and education.
“The survey showed that users of electricity were considerably better off than the non-users with regard to their socio-economic status and living conditions,” he said.
Social-economic status and living conditions of household heads as measured by different variables appear to be strongly associated with using electricity which resulted in a greater level of satisfaction with their life situation, he added.
Provincial governor Odette Uwamariya said the project had doubled electrification levels in the province, from 11 per cent to 22 per cent.
She said increased access to electricity had allowed trading centres in the region to upgrade and helped decentralisation of public services.
“Schools, health centres, Saccos (credit and savings cooperatives) benefitted… we can now go beyond just home lighting to starting agro-based industries,” Uwamariya said.
Mohamed Ammar, general manager, STEG, a Tunisian firm that was involved with the project, assurance stakeholders of continued support, saying Tunisia enjoyed good relations with Rwanda.
“The idea is to impact the lives of the people,” he said.
Residents expressed gratitude for the support but also concerns.
“Some people are too poor to afford electricity bills, while others are yet to get connected. The electric poles that were erected are also too weak to withstand the force of violent winds,” said Richard Dukuze, one of the beneficiaries.
*Stephen Rwembeho – The New Times