The Ministry of Infrastructure plans to introduce a National Energy Development Agency and a National Transport Development Agency this year to coordinate both sectors and promote dialogue between the private and public sectors.
According to officials, the effort is also aimed at enhancing access to energy resources and improving the quality of public transport services in the country.
The initiatives are contained in the ministry’s second phase of decentralization programmes (2008-2012)-a five-year work policy that sets the tasks and objectives it aims to achieve within that timeframe.
Programmes within the strategic plan also include embarking on capacity building for infrastructural planners in the country to the lowest local government authorities, and the building of a strong computerized database of the country’s infrastructure programmes that will help in monitoring the implementation by local government authorities.
In a telephone interview, Joseph Mvurirwenande, the acting director of planning in the Ministry confirmed the plans and said; “we are working on it”, adding that specialists are working on a framework and it is in advanced stages and that the plans will soon be released to the public.
He however refused to divulge further details concerning the projects.
Another senior officer in the ministry, Alexis Karani, said that the two agencies will first serve as pilot projects before the ministry sets up other national regulatory agencies in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Habitat and Urbanisation, and Meteorology sectors that it oversees.
Karani said this would make service delivery easier all over the country as district authorities will be dealing with autonomous agencies instead of the ministry as has been the case.
The new initiatives according to the officials, is part of ongoing administrative reforms that begun in 2006, which will see the ministry transfer some of its responsibilities to districts and remain with the task of designing policies.
Prior to these new developments, Mininfra has been the sole body involved in planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the five sectors.
The new reforms are also meant to decrease government’s monopoly and invite investors on the table so that by 2012 the mentioned sectors are in the hands of the private sector, where government officials hope competence in service provision will significantly improve.
The government is the sole supplier and regulator of energy resources in the country apart from charcoal, while the transport sector is largely in the hands of private investors with a minimal government involvement in managing the national public transport utility Onatracom.
The move to set up a national transport agency will according to Albert Mugisha a regular commuter in Kigali, encourage investors in the public sector like the Public Commuter Taxis Association (ATRACO) to adhere to basic standards in managing transport services such as hygiene inside their vehicles.
“Currently the setting up of standards in the sector is left in the greedy hands of private investors who only care for profit. The new reforms in the sector will especially help raise the standards of transporting livestock for consumption from rural to urban areas,” said Mugisha.