FEATURED: Rural electrification transforming lives of Burera residents

Burera residents look to electricty for transforming their lives.Michel Nkurunziza

When electricity was supplied to residents of Nyagahinga cell, Cyanika sector of Burera district, the residents started   to get new opportunities that have already started to transform their lives financially.

Ivan Mujyanama is a young boy who was working as a junior employee in the cinema business at nearest villages with electricity and was earning little income. He told The New Times that when electricity was supplied to his village he gathered his savings and launched a CD burning business in Nyagahinga business center. “When I realized that electricity was being installed in my village, I left the job I was doing in the neighboring village and I came back to my village to initiate my own business. I bought a used desktop computer for 100,000 Rwf to start disc burning and incise songs and videos for my clients. Residents here in Nyagahinga bought TV screens after getting electricity and always need films and music to watch. This was my business opportunity, no one else does such business in this center, my business and income are now getting higher thanks to electricity,” he said.

Nyagahinga center nearby Muhabura volcano has now electricty.Michel Nkurunziza

The young boy said he sells a film disc at 100 Rwf and a music disc 50 Rwf . “In this business I receive over 60 clients per day and I earn over 5,000 Rwf every day. I only invested in the desktop, my skills and 500 Rwf for electricity every two days,” Mujyanama said.

Some of residents bought milling machines after electricty supply.Michel Nkurunziza

He said that in Nyagahinga, with newly supplied electricity, no one else has started a business of printing, photocopy, scanning, Internet Cyber café and Irembo online services. He said that he will launch it in few weeks since there is a big demand. In the same business center, six milling machines have already been installed and reduced the time people spent going for such services in other centers.

The cell's office and health post also got electricty

Jean Bosco Hakizimana, a resident of Nyagahinga, has a shop in the area and is also a technician. He said that when they started accessing electricity he bought two milling machines which he installed in the center. “Each milling machine costs 1.5 million Rwf, I earn between  10,000 Rwf and 20,000 Rwf per day after spending between 3,000 Rwf and 5,000 Rwf for electricity, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays, scheduled market days,” Hakizimana said. He employs two young men to operate the milling machines, each of those employee is paid 1,000 Rwf out of 5,000 Rwf gained.

Health posts, cells’ offices, schools benefited

Apart from starting businesses, thanks to opportunities generated by electricity supply health posts, cells’ offices and schools have also benefitted a lot.

Valeria Mukabarinda, in charge of Hygiene and Sanitation at Nyagahinga Health Post, said the Health Post used to face many challenges due to a lack of electricity. “When a patient was brought here at night, we used a phone’s light for treatment. If they were damaged, it was not easy to treat wounds using a phone’s light so many used to be immediately transferred for minor injuries. Today, electricity has eased the delivery of health services and to make it affordable here at our health post,” she said.

Mukabarinda said that students can even revise their lessons at night thanks to electricity while shops and markets are even attended at night. “I can send my child to the market at night because there is electricity whereas previously businesses used to close earlier,” she said.

Ivan Mujyanama , the young boy making use of electricty in Nyagahinga center to start income generating activity.Michel Nkurunziza

More energy projects

Celestin Muhayimana, the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Branch Manager in Burera district, said that from 2015 to 2018 households accessing electricity has tripled. He said that there were 8,050 households with electricity in 2015 and that this number increased to over 26,000 households in 2018. 21,000 households of them are connected to on-grid energy and 5,061 households are connected to off-grid energy. “The households connected to electricity make up 33 per cent (33%) of all households,” he said.

Muhayimana cited more ongoing projects financed by the World Bank to increase electricity penetration in Burera district. These projects will increase electricity access in the sectors of Butaro, Kivuye, Bungwe, Kinyababa, Rusarabuye, Cyeru, Kinoni, Rugarama, Nemba, Ruhunde, Rwerere, Rugengabare, Rugarama, Cyanika and Kagogo.

Muhayimana went on by saying that there is also another project financed by the African Development Bank that will electrify a part of Kinyababa, and Kagogo sectors. Off-grid projects are run by companies such as Ignite Power, Mobisol, BBOXX and Zola. “The National Electrification Plan shows where to scale up on-grid and off-grid energy while considering infrastructure with high energy demand,” he added.