The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Optimism, Hope As Rukarara II Hydro-Power Plant Is Launched

A modern micro-hydropower plant has been inaugurated in the rural Uwinkingi Sector, Nyamagabe District. The 2.2 Megawatt power station is tipped to help improve economic activities and transform the lives of area residents.

Rukarara II, whose construction works were started in early 2011, is already connected onto the national grid. The construction of the plant cost Rwf8.9 billion.

The construction was funded by the government in partnership with the Belgian Technical cooperation (BTC) and the European Union.

Rukarara II is fully automated and remotely controlled, according to officials. Sources said its modern design and high-end technology guarantee at least a 30-year lifespan.

Among the benefits from the plant include the creation of at least 800 jobs for the locals as well as the construction of a 5km road that is helping local farmers to access markets.

Genevieve Mukandayisenga, one of the residents, said the plant will help improve the living conditions of area residents.

"We used to trek long distances to have our phones charged. We will now use that time to work for our families," she said.

Other residents siad they hope to see new smaller businesses such as hairdressing saloons and grinding mills emerge for the benefit of the community.

Though communities around the Rukarara II hydropower plant are yet to enjoy electricity from the new plant, works to connect local residents have started and transmission lines are being erected.

Speaking at the inauguration, the Minister for infrastructure, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, said the government had heavily invested in energy production because it has the potential to improve the lives of citizens.

He said about 18 per cent of Rwanda's 10.5 million are currently connected to the national grid and the target is to cover at least 70 per cent of the population by 2017.

"We recognise the importance of energy in economic development," Lwakabamba said.

"Electricity has proved to stimulate Small and Medium Enterprises that help transform people's lives," he added.

Lwakabamba urged local leaders and residents to protect the plant against anything that could affect its capacity to generate energy.

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