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How electricity connectivity has improved livelihoods of residents in Gisagara district

Janvier Muhoza, 19, owns and operates a barber shop which he started a month ago as a result of access to electricity connection made in Ruhuha Model Village under the Integrated Development Programme in Mamba sector, Gisagara District.

Muhoza was not fortunate to continue his studies, having dropped out in primary five and has effectively been out of employment since, owing to lack of economic activity in his community.

He says he has always wanted to be a businessman, but there being no electricity, the opportunities were very narrow to realise his dream.

In May this year, at least 120 households were connected to electricity. The beneficiaries had just been relocated from high risk zones and settled in a model village.

600 family members are expected to benefit from the connections.

Muhoza who has between 20 and 40 a day hopes that the electricity connection will improve his business enterprises.

“Lack of access to electricity has been affecting our development. There was little chance of boosting an investment project. Having electricity in our area has helped me to implement my dreams. Before I tried to use solar power which was quite challenging,”Muhoza said.

Muhoza who claims to have moderate prices ranging from Rwf 100 for children and 200 for adults, holds dreams of one day owning his own real estate from the proceeds of his business.

As a Gisagara resident, he believes that the electrification of the area will support a big number of unemployed youth.

According to Prisca Uwanyirigira, a mother of one, access to electricity has enabled areas residents save money that would have otherwise been spent charging equipment, lighting houses among other purpose.

She notes that with electrification, children from the area have more time to study compared to previous times before electrification in the area.

“I lost 9 mobile phones from charging points. Also, charging cost was quite a challenge,”Uwanyirigira added.

“Previously, my 10- year son did not get enough time to study at home as there lacked adequate lighting but today I am happy that he does. His performance in class is now improving.” She added.

Uwanyirigira is now encouraging her fellow women to come together and start commercial projects in the area to make the most of the rural electrification programme.

According to local authorities, the government is planning to build a modern market and business centers in the area in order to enable residents to create jobs.

Innocent Ntigirinzigo, the village leader, believes that development in the area will be accelerated as electrification will enable investments into multiple ventures.

“There is a significant change since the power was distributed. Some people started business. Though, few businesses are in place today, many people are targeting to start their own once the market and business center are constructed. Where the electricity is accessible, life changes,” Ntigirinzigo said.

He added that as long as the village is near the border of Burundi, the electricity will contribute to night patrol to ensure the security. “Electricity is the starting point and we expect more to come.”

Beatha Mukantabana, another resident, said that access to electricity has improved security.

“Our activities would end early evening but today even during the night some people continue to go about their businesses. Electricity has been attracting people to design different projects,” she said.

Innocent Mpitiye echoed his neighbor’s message saying that previously there were many opportunities but it was difficult for them to exploit.

According to Rwanda Energy Group Branch Manager in Gisagara district, Francis Kiiza, out of 77,163 households in the district, a total of 27,534 households representing 36 per cent have already been connected to power. 23 per cent are connected to on-grid power while 13 per cent are connected to off-grid solutions.

Until 1994, across the District only 25 households were connected to electricity.

Kiiza said that power supply line with the length of 22.8 kilometers is expected to benefit 2,974 households in Mamba and Gikonko sectors and so far 859 households have benefited.

For 2017/2018 fiscal year, the target was to connect 9,615 households but so far they have surpassed to 11,377 and more other 1000 households are expected to be connected before the end of this month.

 

ARGEO