Rwanda Infrastructure

The Rwandan government prioritized funding of water supply development during the 2000s, significantly increasing its share of the national budget. This funding, along with donor support, caused a rapid increase in access to safe water; in 2008, 73% of the population had access to safe water, up from about 55% in 2005. The country’s water infrastructure consists of urban and rural systems which deliver water to the public, mainly through standpipes in rural areas and private connections in urban areas. In areas not served by these systems, hand pumps and managed springs are used. Despite rainfall exceeding 100 centimeters (39 in) annually in many areas, little use is made of rainwater harvesting. Access to sanitation remains low; the United Nations estimates that in 2006, 34% of urban and 20% of rural dwellers had access to improved sanitation. Government policy measures to improve sanitation are limited, focusing only on urban areas. The majority of the population, both urban and rural, use public shared pit latrines for sanitation.

Rwanda’s electricity supply was, until the early 2000s, generated almost entirely from hydroelectric sources; power stations on Lakes Burera and Ruhondo provided 90% of the country’s electricity. A combination of below average rainfall and human activity, including the draining of the Rugezi wetlands for cultivation and grazing, caused the two lakes’ water levels to fall from 1990 onwards; by 2004 levels were reduced by 50%, leading to a sharp drop in output from the power stations. This, coupled with increased demand as the economy grew, precipitated a shortfall in 2004 and widespread load shedding. As an emergency measure, the government installed diesel generators north of Kigali; by 2006 these were providing 56% of the country’s electricity, but were very costly. The government enacted a number of measures to alleviate this problem, including rehabilitating the Rugezi wetlands, which supply water to Burera and Ruhondo and investing in a scheme to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu, expected in its first phase to increase the country’s power generation by 40%. Only 6% of the population had access to electricity in 2009.

The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide, with aid from the United States, European Union, Japan, and others. The transport system centers primarily on the road network, with paved roads between Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is linked by road to other countries in East Africa, such as Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya, as well as to the eastern Congolese cities of Goma and Bukavu; the country’s most important trade route is the road to the port of Mombasa via Kampala and Nairobi. The principal form of public transport in the country is the shared taxi. Express routes link the major cities and local service is offered to most villages along the main roads. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighboring countries. The country has an international airport at Kigali that serves one domestic and several international destinations. As of 2011 the country has no railways, although funding has been secured for a feasibility study into extending the Tanzanian Central Line into Rwanda. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists and the government has initiated a programme to encourage development of a full service.

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