Nkombo Island in Rusizi District, Western Province, used to be one of the most backward areas of the country. Access was only by dugout canoes and the crossing to the mainland was perilous.
With a population of about 18,000, that in normal circumstances would be a manageable number, delivering services would be easy, but that is not the case, but it was even worse a decade ago.
Though there are no roads on the 29km2 island and people have to walk, that could soon be history. During a recent visit to the island by the president of the Senate, Bernard Makuza, residents appealed for an ambulance, especially to ferry pregnant mothers to hospital, but they got more than they bargained for.
He assured them that that was catered for in the district budget, but more importantly, building a road network was also on the books. Nkombo used to be a sleepy island; one had to cross the dangerous waters just to get a haircut because they had no electricity.
But all that begun to change when President Paul Kagame, on one of his stopovers, saw the potential the island has. But, first, it had to get the necessary infrastructure that has been a dream for many generations – electricity and clean water.
Within a short time, the island was connected to the national grid and it got its own water treatment plant. Today Nkombo is a hive of activity with many businesses coming up. What does one know? The islanders’ dream of having a bridge connecting them to the mainland could come to be.
It does pay to dream, but those dreams need to be pursued in earnest. Nkombo could be another undiscovered gem and it’s worth exploring, especially for those in the hospitality sector