THE Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) has re-affirmed that the country’s target to connect 50 per cent homes to electricity in the next four years is within reach. EWSA expects to connect 100,000 households to the national electric grid annually to achieve the target.
Electricity is crucial in the manufacturing and small enterprise sectors. It is even more crucial for households, especially in the rural areas where there is over reliance on wood poses a source of energy. Over reliance on wood posses a grave danger for the environment. This is connected to economic poverty and environmental degradation.
Government has invested a lot in the energy sector, including diversification into different sources of energy, to generate more electricity. But more momentum is needed until the country’s energy needs are met. Access to electricity increased from 6 per cent in 2008 to 16 per cent in 2012. This means that in only four years access to electricity by households more than doubled.
If we go by the same trend, by 2016 the current access will also have more than doubled from 16 per cent to over 48 per cent of homes connected to electricity. This will probably put Rwanda among the developing countries with the highest percentage of the population having access to electricity.
For Rwanda to achieve its vision of connecting half of the entire population with electricity within the next five years, current connection activities must be rapidly tripled to keep the target alive. But this will require support from all the stake holders. Government should take more deliberate steps to electrify, especially villages all over the country, to improve households’ livelihoods as well as reduce poverty.