Many residents in Gicumbi are experiencing a positive change in their living conditions after being connected to the national electricity grid in the last one year. In just one fiscal year of 2017-2018, 6136 households have been connected to the national grid according to Nkudabakuze Fulgence, the REG branch manager of Gicumbi District.
After being connected to the National grid, already existing businesses are improving their services while new businesses are flourishing and new activities emerging. They include barbershops, flour mills, furniture and metalwork workshops are springing up. Bars, music shops and video shacks are cashing in on the new found status while residences are finding life easier with more working hours and better living conditions for their school going children.
Munyaneza Papias, the manager of Kira Mutete Sacco in Mutete sector in Gicumbi district was eager to testify about the benefits he gained after the area was connected to electricity recently. “The change that has come with our being connected to the national grid is unbelievable. The cost of doing business has gone down and the efficiency and the quality of service we are giving our customers has more than doubled” says Munyaneza.
According to Munyaneza the acquisition of electricity has helped solve many problems that the Sacco faced in its day to day operations.“Even for the simple things like photocopying, printing documents, passport size photographs, it required someone from the bank to travel miles to Byumba which meant a lot of money and time wasting. However with the new connections, we do everything from here plus our computers are connected and we have internet connection making us more efficient” he explained.
Also attesting of the impact, is the emergence of new activities. According to Mukamuregera Marie Glass an Irembo agent, she and her husband migrated and set up a business in Mutete sector recently after it got connected to the national grid. “We realized that previously, residents of Mutete were travelling long distances for Irembo services and other services related to computers like printing and photocopying so we decided to relocate and offer them these services after the sector got connected to the national grid” she explained.
“People, especially the youth, are more and more involved in various income generating activities, rather than only relying on agriculture”, says one Ndayisenga Donart, a teacher and resident of Runyinya village Mulindi cell in Kaniga sector. “People are starting barber shops or metal workshops and so many other activities which were not possible to start when we were not connected to the power line”. The young man adds: “Today, we can work both day and night. For instance, I am a teacher during the day but sometimes I can work as a hairdresser at night. This gives me extra revenues”.
Bagirana J.M.V the executive Secretary of kaniga sector, Gicumbi district says that residents have welcomed the connection and that many are trying to start businesses that previously were not available in his sector.
“Apart from making our work easier here at the sector, electricity has helped many residents to start up small projects that require electricity and I believe the sector is bound to see a lot of economic development” said Bagirana.
According to the branch manager of Gicumbi district Nkundabakuze Fulgence, the number of households that have been connected to the national grid is impressive. “In the year 2017-2018, we connected 6136 households to the national grid which is a big achievement and we are happy that the residents are trying to effectively use the electricity” says Nkudabakuze. He attributes this achievement to the president of Rwanda Paul Kagame’s commitment to see that all Rwandans access power.
He however says that they still have a long way to go now that the government has a plan for all Rwandans to access power at 100% by the year 2024. Currently, 32% of all households in Gicumbi have access to electricity.
“I am positive that we will achieve that target considering that this year alone, 2018-2019 we plan to connect 5083 households and this pace is promising” he said.
Nkundabakuze called upon residents to use take advantage of this electricity by being innovative and creating businesses that will help them fight poverty thus leading to economic development.
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