Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) has taken initial steps to enforce requirements electricians must meet before they can be allowed to conduct electrical installations in buildings.
The move to enforce the Electrical Installations Regulations seeks to purge unqualified practitioners and help prevent or significantly reduce fire incidents.
The rules were rolled out a few years back to help protect people, properties and the environment from hazards that can arise from faulty electrical installations.
To get a permit, an electrician is required to sit an exam to test their knowledge in the field after presenting requisite academic certificates.
Effective next January, only certified electrical engineers will be authorised to carry out electrical installation works at public premises and homes in the City of Kigali, or penalties will be taken against premises' owners, an official warned.
Just 100 electrical engineers countrywide are so far certified, according to Alexis Mutwale, the General Manager of Energy, Water, and Sanitation at RURA.
"We need more licensed electrical engineers," he said, adding that enforcement will be done gradually, starting with the capital, to avoid sudden shortages.
After Kigali, he added, the exercise will be taken to other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the official noted that the regulator was currently sensitizing electrical engineers to seek permits and hoped to register at least 100 of them soon.
This, he noted, will allow for seamless enforcement of the rules.
Officials hope that the 'clean-up' exercise will help tackle fire incidents that continue to be seen around the country, particularly in the City of Kigali, costing billions in destroyed property.
Fires have particularly become commonplace in commercial centres of the capital, most especially in Gisozi, including in recent weeks.
"There are lingering concerns in light of the fire incidents both in public buildings and homes," Mutwale said, suggesting that in most cases poor electrical installations were to blame for these fires.
"People tend to blame REG (Rwanda Energy Group) but as a matter of fact these incidents can be traced to the work of incompetent and unqualified electrical engineers," he added.
As of early this week at least 40 electrical engineers had submitted applications for electrical installation permits to RURA.
The regulator first published a call for applications for permits on November 17.
Qualified applicants will only be certified after passing an exam.
Exams are prepared in collaboration with the Institution of Engineers Rwanda, the official said.
Applicants require a degree or high school certificate in electrical engineering to qualify for the exam.