Access to electricity changing lives in Nyagatare District

More entrepreneurial projects started as a result of electricity. All pictures by Frederic Byumvuhore.

Businesses and individuals in Nyagatare are benefiting from electricity connectivity that was made in some parts of the district during last year.

For them, access to electricity was the engine for development and improvement of their welfare. When one visits some trading centres in the district, it is easy to recognise that they have not taken this development for granted.

Various entrepreneurial projects, ranging from milling plants, saloons, and welding to trading in stationary are all booming.

According to Chris Nshimiyimana, the Executive Secretary of Cyimbogo cell in Matimba sector, electricity has impacted various sectors such as education, health and public administration.

Jean d’Amour Musoni owns a saloon the project helps him to cater domestic requirements.

In local government offices, Nshimiyimana said, service delivery and accountability have improved drastically. He said that, previously, local leaders would delay to submit reports or fail to serve the public on time because some services needed electricity.

He reflected on how people would trek kilometres to different areas in order to secure basic services such as shaving, printing or getting fresh meal.

He added that electricity has also improved the way education services are delivered in schools because school-children can now use the Internet and other ICT based solution in learning.

Working hours in hospitals have increased, he said.

“People now get services nearer. Most of the services would be got from Kagitumba, which would previously require to travel for at least an hour and a half,” Nshimiyimana narrated.

Creating off-farm jobs

The development has facilitated Eldephonse Musafiri to start a milling business at Kabindi trading centre in Mushira sector. He mills grains such as maize, sorghum, and soya, and cassava.

Barnabe Bahoranimana, the manager of REG branch in Nyagatare District, said that the project to electrify in the district, has been impacting the lives of people.

“When we got electricity, I saw the opportunity to invest in milling. Previously, we used to get similar services from other areas. Now, I can earn at least Rwf7,000 per day,” he said

The businessman noted that the income helps him to pay school fees for his young brothers and afford family needs. He plans to expand his projects in the near future.

Jean d’Amour Musoni owns a barber shop.

Before he was using solar system but couldn’t raise more than Rwf800 per day. Today, he earns Rwf2000 every day. From his meagre savings, he managed to construct a house of 16 iron sheets.

He added that the project helps him to cater for his domestic requirements.

Eric Mugwaneza, 19, is employed in milling business where he earns a monthly income of Rwf50,000.

Mugwaneza said that he constructed a house worth over Rwf1 million. His ambition is to become self-employed.

Adele Mukankusi, 74, said electricity has reduced risks associated with using candles such as possible fire outbreaks. It also enables students to revise their studies with ease. 

“Electricity has helped us a lot. Today, we light our homes; and charge our mobile phones and radios. Also, it has improved the security in the community and people can now move any time they want. Thanks to the Government of Rwanda for thinking about us,” she noted.

Barnabe Bahoranimana, the manager of Rwanda Energy Group (REG) branch in Nyagatare District, said that the project to electrify Nyagatare is in line with facilitating Rwandans to become self-reliant.

 He noted that last year a total of 2,824 households in Nyagatare District were connected to electricity.

Its part of the ongoing effort to reach the target of connecting all households in Rwanda by 2024, he said. Access to electricity in Nyagatare district stands at 36.2 per cent.

“Since the time electricity has been distributed across the district, many changes were witnessed. Electricity has awakened people and made them more active in terms of starting off-farm activities,” Bahoranimana said.

He added that connecting the households is one step which is followed by sensitising the beneficiaries on how to effectively manage infrastructure.

“We always remind the community to protect facilities such as transformers, and electric cables, as well as fight against fraud and illegal activities that hinder the safety and sustainability of electrification,” he said.

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