Residents in seven sectors of Muhazi, Gashari, Munyiginya, Nturire, Rubona, Munyaga and Kigabiro in Rwamagana District plus 42 church houses, 10 schools, two cells’ offices and two health posts have already been connected to the national grid.
Residents say that life has greatly changed in just one month after they had been connected to the national grid and believe that the new development is going to boost their economic livelihoods.
Mugirasoni Maria a resident of Nyingi village in Munyiginya sector in Rwamagana who couldn’t hide her excitement, says that they had waited for the electricity for so many years and since they were connected, many residents have already started small businesses that previously wouldn’t have been possible.
“Times were so hard before getting connected, using candles for light because to some of us even the solar energy option was too expensive. When you look around here, all the new small saloons have mushroomed because of the connection to the national grid and many more are coming up” says Mugirasoni
What pleased Mugirasoni most was the fact that her children can now read and revise in a serene environment that is well lit with electricity which she believes is going to boost their performance at school.
“My kids now have the same advantage as other kids from homes that had electricity or were in position to afford solar power. It was really challenging to see them trying to concentrate with light from candles that would sometimes be unavailable. They could easily get bored and lose interest even before their home work was done but today they spend longer hours doing revision which is a good sign” she adds.
She adds that the convenience with which they have been able to connect citizens has really helped even those with merger earnings and it is the reason as to why many are connected today.
“We can pay in installments in accordance with what we can afford. We were given a promotion after which we are required to buy cash power of which we use 50% and the other 50% goes to pay for the meter connections,” explains Mugirasoni.
Another Kagabo John, a trader from Nyarubuye village in Munyiginya sector , says they were limited to what they could do because they lacked electricity.
“Many people lacked various services and it required them to travel distances to get them. However since we got power, we can now think of providing these services and bringing them closer to the people. Am now thinking of adding a fridge to provide cold drinks to people which I would never have thought of before” says Kagabo
According to Laurent Butera, the Manager of the Rwanda Energy Group Branch in Rwamagana District, the project that has seen thousands of connections in Rwamagana was initiated in 2016, thanks to a grant of the Belgian Kingdom to the Government of Rwanda through the Electricity Access Rollout Program (EARP). The project will provide more connections in Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe Districts.
“Since we started the this project in 2016, over 8077 households of seven sectors of Rwamagana District and two cells from Kayonza District have been connected to the grid” said Butera.
He explained that they worked with different stake holders and the government to see that they reach a good number of people who lacked electricity in these sectors of Rwamagana.
“This project has added 203 kilometers of low voltage lines and 66 kilometers of medium voltage lines in our distribution network. When the project ended, we came back and mobilized residents to bring the necessary requirements so that they be added in the system in order to be able to buy cash power and use the electricity” says Butera
The Government intends to provide 100% of the population with access to electricity both on-grid and off-grid by the end of 2024.
The priority is to extend the grid network to allow heavy users of electricity across the country to connect to the grid. For lighter users of electricity, grid connections are unlikely to make economic sense in the short term and as such, off-grid solutions will be preferred.
To keep pace with increased demand, the Government of Rwanda will keep increasing electricity generation capacity. Diversifying power generation sources and reducing diesel generation over time will enable the government to lower the long-term cost of service and gradually phase out indiscriminate subsidies to the tariff.