The World Bank Board of Directors today approved US$60 million in additional financing to bring more electricity to more Rwandans and for lighting public institutions such as schools, clinics and hospitals.
The loan financing is provided by the International Development Association, (IDA)*, the Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries.
Rwanda's Electricity Access Rollout Program (EARP) has helped to bring electricity to 332,000 households by December 2012, up from only 110,000 in 2009. Today's approval will provide bridging financing required to maintain the EARP's momentum as the Government of Rwanda continues to mobilize additional resources.
"Rwanda's rural population needs access to electricity. They need electricity in their economic lives, in their homes, in their schools and in their clinics," said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda. "We recognize the country's rural development program will not take off without provision of basic infrastructure to stimulate investments in rural areas in addition to improving service delivery, especially at schools, clinics and hospitals where lighting is essential."
The electrification program is helping to bring benefits to rural areas such as improved lighting thereby extending the number of working hours and reducing spoilage of fresh products due to availability of refrigeration and cooling. Imanizabaho Clarisse, a business woman in Nyakiriba, commented: "We now have a cold room that helps to preserve perishables. Foodstuff can now stay fresh for several days without losing quality. We incur no more losses ".
A number of small and medium businesses are coming up such as agro-processing industries, thus adding value to food products, reducing post-harvest losses and increasing farmer incomes. In addition, electricity has also contributed to improved service delivery, especially in health, education and administrative services with provision of new services such as vaccinations and improved laboratory tests that were not possible earlier. "Before we got electricity, maternity activities were carried out in the dark, now that we have permanent electricity, all machines are functioning well and the lab is operating perfectly," said Mukabadege Speciose Deputy Director of the Nyange Health Center.
"At the heart of the World Bank's energy strategy in Africa is supporting transformational projects that achieve large, positive outcomes," said Lucio Monari, Sector Manager, World Bank Africa Energy Group. "The scale-up of electricity access enables proper functioning of essential services such as schools and health services adding to the everyday quality of life for thousands of Rwandan citizens."
The EARP is a multi-donor program jointly financed by the African Development Bank, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Belgium, European Union (EU), Japan, Netherlands, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Saudi Fund and the World Bank which have mobilized $348.2 million for this important initiative.
"Access to modern energy services is having a transformational impact on the local economy, with important implications for employment, small and medium business development and therefore poverty reduction," said Paul Baringanire, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. "We look forward to speedy implementation so that the momentum of the energy access project can be maintained to benefit all Rwandans.
* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.