The new water tariffs for rural areas took effect on January 1, 2017 with all private water vendors expected to comply with immediate effect.
The water tariffs were revised downwards in December, following a decision by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority.
The revision saw water tariffs in rural Rwanda come down significantly.
Water provision in rural areas is done by private services providers licensed by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority. The over 40 firms operate through contracts and agreements with the districts that they operate in.
The tariffs affect the five water systems, gravity, turbo, electricity pumping, diesel pumping and complex.
For water systems using gravity, meaning water that is distributed without the need to pressure it with a pump, costs dropped by 20 per cent to Rwf 8 per jerry can and Rwf 338 per cubic meter (m3).
Water consumers relying on electricity pumping will see cost go down by 33 per cent to Rwf 863 per m3 and Rwf 20 per jerry can.
Water systems using diesel dropped by almost 50 per cent to Rwf1,087 per m3 and Rwf 25 per jerry can.
Complex system’s tariffs also dropped by 20 per cent to Rwf 704 per m3 and Rwf 16 for each jerry can while Turbo systems dropped to Rwf 19 per jerry can.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Dr. Benjamin Rutimurwa, the director for economic regulation, said firms supplying water in rural areas are expected to comply with the new tariffs and will be monitored to ensure compliance.
Private water firms which do not comply will risk penalties.
The tariffs were brought down through a new agreement between districts and the private service providers whereby their payment was brought down from 40 per cent of their revenue to 10 per cent giving them some room to revise prices.
Cyprien Sebikwekwe, the head of the private water service providers said that they were ready to comply with the new tariffs with eight districts already having amended contracts.
The other districts are in the process of amending contracts between the two parties.
James Sano, the Chief Executive of Water and Sanitation Corporation Ltd (WASAC) said that the revision was to ensure affordability of water as well as sustainability of services.
He noted that the implementation will also be supervised and overseen by the districts’ water boards comprised of representatives from government, local authorities, civil society and the private sector.
Going forward, he said that WASAC would also work to build capacity among the private firms operating in the sector to improve their efficiency which would improve access to water.
Currently, 84.8 per cent of Rwanda has access to clean water, according to Sano. People considered to have water access in Rwanda are those within 500 meters of a water point in rural areas and 200 meters in urban areas.