27 September 2017

Rwanda: Government Promises Universal Access to Water, Power

Photo: The Guardian

All Rwandans will have access to electricity and water in the next seven years and will have easier access to public service, thanks to the use of latest achievements in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has pledged.

The premier announced this yesterday while presenting the Government's seven-year programme.

Under Article 119 of the Constitution, the prime minister has a responsibility to present to Parliament the government's programmes within a period of thirty (30) days after assuming office.

President Paul Kagame appointed Dr Ngirente as prime minister last month, essentially entrusting him with the task of coordinating the government's efforts to implement the President's agenda to strengthen Rwanda's economy, social welfare, and good governance.

It's these three pillars that the Government's seven-year programme that the premier presented yesterday focuses on.

It promises to connect more Rwandans to electricity and water, improve healthcare, build infrastructure, and create jobs among other plans to achieve the country's economic transformation.

"The programme aims to fast-track inclusive development," the premier said.

He said the programme is based on RPF-Inkotanyi's manifesto, the country's second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and Vision 2020, as well as the guidelines in Rwanda's Vision 2050 that remains under planning.

Under the seven-year programme, from 2017 to 2024, the Government plans to connect all Rwandans to water and electricity, among other key targets.

"In the next seven years, all Rwandans will get access to electricity and water, from 34.5 per cent and 85 per cent today, respectively," Ngirente told Parliament as he made his presentation.

The Government also plans to revamp infrastructure and improve the tourism sector, with promises that over the next seven years some 3,000 kilometres of feeder roads will be rehabilitated, 800 kilometres of national asphalt roads constructed, while tourism revenues will be doubled from the current $404 million a year to $800 million.

Creating jobs

On jobs, the Government pledged to create 1.5 million jobs over the next seven years, which means that slightly over 200,000 jobs will be created every year.

That target on jobs creation impressed MP Theobald Mporanyi, a member of the standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony in the Lower Chamber of Parliament.

He said it's quite an interesting and important target since the government had earlier promised to only work toward 200,000 jobs by the year 2018 and now it's making it a promise to create the same number of jobs every year.

"It's really amazing if we can do it. It's an important thing that will positively drive our economy because it will reduce the number of unemployed people and allow them to contribute to our economy," he told The New Times in an interview.

The legislator advised the Government to regularly monitor its employment promotion initiatives and strengthen its job creation strategies such as investments in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme of the target on jobs is to be achieved.

The premier also said that the government will keep improving the health sector over the next seven years, with plans already laid out to build health centres in 17 sectors which don't have them at the moment and construct 150 new health posts across the country.

"Easing access to quality healthcare is a top priority for the Government of Rwanda over the next seven years," the prime minister said.

He also promised that there will be a special focus on an efficient, smart, accountable, and service-delivery oriented public service in the country over the next seven years, committing that the government will deliver 100 per cent of its services online by the year 2024, up from the current 40 per cent rate.

Going forward, the premier said, the process to decentralise governance will also be strengthened, with districts encouraged to collect more revenues to finance their development needs.

'Mixed reactions'

Legislators received the government's new seven-year programme with mixed reactions, many of them describing it as ambitious and requiring of a new sense of impetus on the part of both leaders and citizens if it is to be achieved.

"It's a very ambitious programme. We need to change our work approach in order to achieve it and people need to understand that we need to get out of our daily routine and say goodbye to corruption and mismanagement," said Senator Appolinaire Mushinzimana, a member of the Senatorial Committee on foreign affairs, cooperation, and security.

Senator Perrine Mukankusi, a member of the senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions, agreed with Mushinzimana, explaining that the plan is achievable provided that a strong monitoring and evaluation system is set up to follow it up.

Ngirente urged all citizens and their development partners to work together and ensure that the programme's implementation becomes a success.

"I urge all public institutions, members of the private sector and the civil society, all Rwandans, development partners and friends of Rwanda to play an important role in the implementation of this programme," he said.

The Government has promised to turn Rwanda into a middle income economy and strengthen citizens' wellbeing and access to good governance and justice.

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