- 70% of Rwandan households with access to electricity
- 100% of Rwandan households must have access to clean water
- 72% Rwandans must have access to financial services
- Cut poverty to less than 30%
Barely a month in office, Rwanda’s Prime Minister has unveiled a three-year ambitious development plan that has sent shock waves across the country.
In a 90-minute televised speech August 4, Anastase Murekezi told parliament his government will provide electricity to 70% of Rwandan households in 36 months. Only 21% Rwandans have access today.
Murekezi added that he must have 100% of Rwandan households get clean water by 2017. Only 87% have access.
His plan comes at a time the country faces a disturbing energy shortage, a scenario that has hindered several mega investment projects from kicking off.
As Murekezi outlined his plan, the parliamentarians seemed to be surprised as well. The PM was sworn in a week ago.
The new Prime Minister’s surprises will not stop at energy. He wants to ensure 72%, up from 24% access to financial services in three years.
His plan is molded in four main pillars; governance, justice, economy, and welfare. This, Murekezi said, is a commitment to transform Rwanda “from a poor to a middle-income” economy.
The PM said he intends to cut down poverty levels from the current 45% to below 30%. It took government about 6 years to uplift some 1.2million Rwandans out of extreme poverty between 2007-2012. Figures dropped from over 65 percent to the current.
However, observers say it will require a lot of effort in actual policy if such an ambitious program is to be attainable.
Dr. Alfred R. Bizoza, Senior Lecturer of Agricultural Economics at the University of Rwanda says there is need for mega investment in more income generating sectors such the service sector and industry.
The service sector contributes 48% to Rwanda’s economy. “We need a vibrant non-farm sector”, Dr. Bizoza said.
The Prime Minister said he plans to develop the private sector, invest heavily in information communication technologies and infrastructure such as energy and roads, providing jobs to the youths, and easing access to finance for investors, especially youths and women.
Rwanda has seen mobile phone penetration hit 63% of the 11million population – up from 53% in 24 months. Internet penetration is now at 22%, up from 7.9% in the year 2012.
If complex sectors like telecommunications can achieve such surging successes, the Prime Minister is convinced other targets can be attained.
Government plans a robust agricultural shift from subsistence to commercial farming – with 100% farmers from 60% accessing improved seeds on consolidated land.
This will be in addition to extension services such as irrigation and mechanization.
Observers say such initiatives are costly and require big investors, not ordinary farmers.
Economist Dr. Alfred Bizoza says the government will have to consider promoting a public-private partnership model to achieve some of these plans.
The government says it will provide funding to academic institutions to undertake more “development-oriented research”.
On his menu, the Prime Minister said he will also focus on good government planning, transparency, and accountability and promotion of foreign cooperation, especially regional integration and security pacts.
He did not forget rule of law as a critical guiding tool. “I ensure you that the programme will be put into practice as announced to you,” Murekezi told MPs.
The Premier’s speech was welcomed by the joint session of the House. Lower Chamber Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa said, “We ensure you of our collaboration, and we will use the power invested in us by the constitution to monitor the programme.”
According to the Prime Minister, the plan is also intertwined into Vision 2020, a long-term development blueprint laid down in 2000, seeking to turn Rwanda into a middle-income, knowledge-based society.
By Didier Bikorimana