The New Times (Kigali)

20 February 2013

Rwanda Gets Rwf39 Billion to Light Rural Areas

Photo: SteveRwanda/Wikipedia
Kigali, Rwanda (file photo).

The World Bank has approved $60m (Rwf39.6) additional financing for Rwanda to extend electricity to public institutions such as schools, health centres and hospitals.

The funding will facilitate the roll out of electricity across the country under Electricity Access Rollout Programme (EARP), according to the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) officials.

"The World Bank supported the project because it is expensive to distribute electricity across the country. The loan will be paid in five years, but World Bank gave us a grace period of one year to start repaying it," Lucien Ruterana, the strategic advisor to EWSA director general, told The New Times yesterday.

The EARP is a multi-donor programme through which over $348m has been mobilised for electricity rollout.

By December 2012, over 332,000 households had been connected to the electricity grid under the Electricity Access Rollout Programme, up from only 110,000 in 2009.

The World Bank said in a statement that the loan would provide bridging financing required to maintain the programme momentum as the government mobilises additional resources.

"Rwanda's rural population needs access to electricity. They need power in their economic lives, in their homes, in schools and health centres," said Carolyn Turk, World Bank's country manager.

"We recognise the country's rural development programme 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," she stated.

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 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.

Speciose Mukabadege, the Nyange Health Centre deputy director, said before they got electricity, maternity activities were carried out in the dark, but now that they have permanent electricity, all machines are functioning well and the lab is operating perfectly.

"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, the World Bank task team leader for the project.

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