The Rwf3.9 billion (US $ 6m) rural electrification project in Nyagatare district that has connected over 4,000 houses on the national electricity grid will be launched today.The households were connected on the national grid by STEG international services, a Tunisian utility.
According to the State Minister for Energy, Dr. Albert Butare, the connections are a result of a partnership between STEG and the national utility in charge of electricity (RECO).
Having connected the three centres of Rukomo, Mimuri and Nyarurema, the partners yesterday signed another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will guide their cooperation activities.
During the signing ceremony, Butare thanked the Tunisian group for the achievement, adding that it will accelerate the country’s economic development.
He revealed that the government aims at increasing electricity access from the current 6 percent of the population to 16 percent by 2012.
In the framework of the Electricity-Access-Rollout-Programme, government also targets 350,000 connections nationwide by the year 2012.
As of June this year, the number of households on the pre-paid payment system stands at 110,000 clients.
In its Vision 2020, Rwanda is aiming to become a middle income country with a GDP of USD 900 per capita per year by 2020 from the current USD 240.
To achieve that economic growth, the country has planned to increase electricity access by up to 35 % by 2020.
“It is a record to connect 4,000 households in less than two months and a lesson to RECO (former Electrogaz) on efficiency.
The connections are already transforming people’s lives hence a great contribution to economic development,” Butare said.
The President and Director General of STEG, Othman Ben Arfa, affirmed continuous cooperation with the Rwandan government adding that STEG is committed to building a solid electricity connection base in African countries.
“Our partnerships are far from commercial as we aim at contributing significantly to the development of our fellow African nations,” Arfa said.
In this regard, he pledged that the Tunisian utility will conduct free studies for 20,000 new connections on the national grid in Rwanda adding that they will also work with local suppliers to reduce connection costs.
While STEG personnel will be training Rwandans on the cost effective connection technology, they too will be acquiring skills on Rwanda’s pre-paid electricity system.
RECO Director General, Yves Muyange noted that connection to each household cost US $ 100 (Rwf 56.3) however beneficiaries have up to one year to pay up in instalments.