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Unfolding the progress made in electrification in the Eastern Province

The Government of Rwanda envisions transitioning from a developing country to a middle-income country. To achieve this goal, the government is targeting 100% electricity access by 2024.

Rwanda Energy Group has been implementing different electrification projects to ensure that Rwanda meets the universal access target. Among those include the Belgian funded project which electrified more than 19,000 households in Rwamagana, Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe Districts, BADEA funded project electrifying Nyagatare District, different ongoing projects funded by Districts budgets as well as fill-in connections done by REG branches across the country. 

During the current year, a total of 43,661 on-grid and off-grid connections were made in the Eastern Province. This has created an enabling condition for socio-economic transformation in the districts of the Eastern Province by providing them access to electricity for lighting and with opportunities for other energy induced income generating activities.

As of today, Kayonza District has the highest access rate with 53.3%, followed by Rwamagana 48.3%, Ngoma 47.3 and Bugesera 42.3%, while Kirehe and Nyagatare are slightly above 40%. Gatsibo has the least access rate in the Eastern Province with 34.7%, both on grid and off-grid.

Beneficiaries reaping the benefits of electricity access include several productive users such as schools, health posts, administrative offices, markets, business centers, along with local businesses. Connected citizens have already begun to use this electricity to better their lives.

Olive Uwanyirigira, a resident of Kabarondo sector, reflected on how her family used to rely on candles during night time.

Sometimes they could spend nights in darkness, in addition to lack of stable access to radio and electricity to charge their phones, she recounted.

“We rarely listened to the radio. Piles seemed to be expensive for us but today our radio-sets are on from morning to the evening. This enables us to get information on what’s happening elsewhere across the world. We appreciate our government to keep on supporting us in everything,” she said.

Patrick Mazimpaka is a trader at a selling point in Rugarama sector, Gatsibo District. He explained how electricity had impacted the growth of his business.

Previously, Mazimpanka’s work was limited to 6:00 pm or late 7:00 p.m due to lack of electricity. He would use candles or lamp. Fortunately, electricity has increased working hours up to 24, he has also witnessed security at his workplace.

“It is now five months since we got the electricity. The development has been helping us in our businesses. At work, I would use candles during evening hours. Our clients were not comfortable with the situation; fortunately, electricity has significantly improved our conditions,” he said.

Residents of Cyimbogo cell in Matimba sector in Nyagatare district in the eastern province say that electricity has impacted various sectors such as education, health and public administration.

Last year by November 2018 a total of 2,824 households in Nyagatare District were connected to electricity.

Ildephonse Musafiri started a milling business at Kabindi trading center in Mushira sector. He mills grains such as maize, sorghum, and soya, and cassava.

“When we got electricity, I saw the opportunity to invest in milling. Previously, we used to get similar services from other areas. Now, I can earn at least Rwf7,000 per day,” he said

In Ngoma District, 2652 households were recently connected to the national grid thanks to an electrification project funded by the Belgian Government.

According to a nursing aid at a health center in Nyaruvuma sector, Ngoma District,  Umutoniwase Aline, electricity has helped them so much now that they can use all the gadgets that required electricity.

“We always suffered because of lack of enough power because gadgets like fridges and cookers could not work but today, we are doing fine thanks to the access to electricity” says Umutoniwase

In Kirehe District, citizens are also smiling as 9778 households were connected since June last year. Faustin Habimana a barber in Nkoyoyo trading center in Mushikiri sector, Kirehe District, says that before getting access to electricity,  he was jobless in spite of being a skilled barber.

“The day we got connected to the national grid was the last day of being unemployed. Now I have between 12-15 customers daily on week days and more during the weekends. I am now able to provide whatever my family needs thanks to electricity” concluded Habimana.

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