On 22nd February 2018, Ruhunde sector was connected to the national electricity network and for the first time in the sector’s history, 350 households immediately got connected to and started using the grid electricity. Schools, a health center and administrative units including the sector, police office and SACCO offices were also connected.
Ntiyamira Felicien, a resident of Kaberano village, Gitovu cell in Ruhunde sector of Burera district is very excited and says it is a blessing for their locality to be connected for the first time.
The father of four school going children says when heard that they were to be connected to the national grid two years ago, he thought it would as well be delayed like had happened before, fears that were allayed when REG staff started installing electricity poles all around his village in Ruhunde sector.
According to Ntiyamira, his home area was nothing but an ordinary trading center with few activities to boast of yet they have the capacity of being a big developed town considering the economic activities that take place in their area.
“Today I am happy with what the Government of Rwanda has done for us here and as you see, we are all excited. We had never had electricity; our area has lagged behind when it comes to economic development yet we have gold mines and good agricultureal land because of the good soils,” says Ntiyamira.
As households in the sector got connected to the national electricity grid, the trader in Ntiyamira is realizing the possibility of fulfilling his dream of adding value to his produce.
Ntiyamira has always wanted to build a maize processing mill. He has saved money to buy a maize milling machine after hearing that they were to be connected to electricity.
“I have traded in maize for so long because it is always on demand, yet to get maize flour I had to travel a long distance. All I needed was to add value to it right here in our trading center because it is a daily food for the people. With electricity now available, I will have started processing maize before the end of this year,” promises Ntiyamira.
Mukantawunga Philomena like Ntiyamira is among the 350 households in Ruhunde. She too can’t hide her excitement as she rushes to join the group of people who had gathered to see a technician from REG installing a cash power meter on an electricity pole alongside the street in the trading center.
“Knowing that today we are going to have light after darkness is like a dream and it is true that we’ve dreamt of this day for so long. Business always came to a stop whenever it got dark and in spite of the fact that there is a power station near our village, we as residents had never got connected,” she explains with a smile of a winner.
She says that they have always had to travel long distances to get simple services that required electricity which has slowed development compared to other regions of Rwanda.
“From photocopying a document required at the sector offices, to buying a metallic window or door or going to mill maize, it required one to travel for two and a half hours to the next trading center, which was a lot of inconvenience to us,” says Mukantawunga.
The Government of Rwanda has ensured and continues to work towards access to safe, reliable and cost effective energy as essential bedrock to achieving the levels of growth defined in the National Strategy for Transformation.
According to Celestin Muhayimana, the REG branch manager in Burera District, the new line that is being added to the grid is 5 km long and will be covering the sector of Ruhunde, serving 350 households.
“We are trying to see that all sectors in the district have electricity and today we are connecting 350 households in Ruhunde sector after which, we shall connect other 400 households in Gitanga center” says Muhayimana
He says the project to electrify Ruhunde sector was initiated through an agreement between the District and Rwanda Energy Group through its rural electrification program, whereby a total of 2,300 will be connected to the grid.
“Before, the residents were required to first pay Rwf 56000 to be connected t0 the network. But today, with the new connection policy, those who can not afford to pay at once can pay later at each purchase of power, where fifty per cent (50%) of the paid amount is used to repay the balance of the connection fee.” he explained.
Energy is a critical productive sector input that can catalyze broader economic growth and contribute significantly to the achievement of the country’s ambitious socioeconomic transformation agenda.
The government’s general target is to connect all Rwandan households by 2024, with activities that will involve improvement of the distribution network to ensure efficiency.