After many years of seeing others enjoying the benefits of being connected to the national grid, residents from the hills of Mataba sector in Gakenke District last month joined the ultra-modern era where things they never imagined earlier have become real. Before last month, light to them was to be got only from sun for a limited part of the day. But now they have electricity for all-time use thanks to the Government of Rwanda through REG that has brought electricity and illuminated their whole world.
Gakenke is among the Districts that have been having the lowest access to electricity and in the last nine years, the district had 0.5% access at the time when the whole country had 10% access but today the District has 29% access according to the statistics from REG as of July 2018.
According to Nyirahategekimana Constance a mother of two in Nyundo cell, every service that required electricity was miles away and that cost them time and money. “Now we can’t think of life without electricity. Today everything depends upon it. We used to find ourselves completely paralyzed when it came to services that required power in our area. Electricity provides all the comforts of life and life was completely different in its absence” says Nyirahategekimana. She says that just a few days ago, they were obliged to use earthen lamps, lanterns or candle light instead of electric bulbs and tubes like today.
“Apart from having light in our homes the whole Mataba trading center is light after dark and the arrival of electricity has changed the we were living and doing business. We charge our phones from home and we have bought some electric appliances like electric irons and electric cookers” she explained. Nyirahategekimana is among the many residents that have applied for loans to start up small income generating ventures from Sigara-Bukene Sacco in Mataba.
According to the accountant of Sacco Mataba, Manishimwe Désiré, the days without electricity were hectic and transacting business was a hustle. “We used to relay on solar panels that got power from the sun which was not reliable and most of the time it was not sufficient to power some of our machines leading to poor services” said Manishimwe. He added that in the two weeks after they got power, a lot has changed at the Sacco in the way business is run, the number of applications for loans has increased and that all the machines and computers are working now that they have enough power being that they are connected to the national grid.
“We had over 30 million frw that was waiting for members to borrow it yet no one was interested but with the new connection to the national grid, we have started getting requests to finance new projects in the sector and so far 18 million Frw has already been disbursed” he added.
Kamali Albert the person responsible for Agricultural and natural resources, Mataba sector says that services that needed electricity were a problem to the sector. “We always had to send someone from the sector to go as far as Gakenke town looking for services like printing, photocopy and the like. But since we are now connection to the national grid, a lot has changed in just a short period” he added.
The Manager of REG Branch in Gakenke District, Charles Munyabugingo said that over 800 households will be connected in a few days. “All those people who are near the distribution line will all be connected to the national grid even those without ready cash. To be connected, one is required to pay 56,000frw and those without money can pay in installments whenever they buy power” said Munyabugingo.
According to Munyabugingo, REG had a target to connect 2922 households in Gakenke District but managed to connect 3817 households in the last fiscal and that they are optimistic that they will exceed this number during the current financial year.
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