By Fidel Munyeshyaka
Researcher, Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies
The Rwanda Long-Term Investment Portfolio (LTIP) has highlighted infrastructure development as the main priority to achieve its long-term development plan, Vision 2020.
The infrastructure programs outlined by LTIP account for 63.6 percent of the total 5,439.8 billion Rwandan Francs (Frw) allocated for investment in the next fourteen years. Under this program, the transport and communication sectors are the primary investment areas followed by energy; soil protection; water and sanitation; and the Community Development Fund.
The LITP report released by the finance ministry shows that Rwanda would invest 3,463.1 billion francs, 63.6 percent of the budget, in infrastructure programs, and the transport sector was given first priority with 1,089 billion francs. During the first phase 2006-2010 the total investment cost in transport is projected at 91.9 billion francs and 470.7 billion francs for the second phase (2011-2015). Transport infrastructure investment for the third phase (2016-2020) is approximately 526.5 billion francs.
The amount specified above is intended to reinforce international links and in modernizing roads and water transport. The Kigali International Airport is to be upgraded and plans for the construction of another airport in Bugesera are underway. Also, the extension of the railway line from Isaka to Kigali is projected by 2015. A dry harbor is also being planned at the North and Southern Corridors, passing through Isaka and Malibi.
In water transport, Rwanda plans to construct a wharf at the shores of Lake Kivu and at other lakes and rivers in the country by 2010. In addition, according to project plans the Akagera river will be navigable by 2015 and a shipyard will be built on Lake Kivu by 2010.
GLCSS believes a modernized transport infrastructure in Rwanda is crucial for its developing the landlocked country. Rwanda is located 1,800 km from the Indian Ocean and 2,000 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, an improved transport infrastructure would enable it to open up to regional and international integration. More so, the accessibility of transport will lower the high costs of movement of people as well as goods and services.
The Rwandan government also plans to invest substantially in the energy sector with an estimated 763.5 billion francs. Â Rwanda will invest 159.4 billion francs in the first development phase and about 302.0 billion francs in the second phase and third phase.
Â In line with these efforts, Rwanda is encouraging investments in the construction of micro-hydroelectric stations, development of new and renewable energy industries and the exploitation of methane gas for the production of electricity.
â€œThis could ensure the consumption annual growth rate of 9. 6 percent per year, and realize an electrification rate of 30 percent in the rural areas,â€ reported an Infrastructure Ministry official, explaining that only about six percent of the population currently has electricity today.
The electrification master plan of Rwanda by 2020 shows that two gas thermal stations of 30 MM will be constructed at Kibuye and at Gisenyi by 2007. The hydroelectric power station at Nyabarongo and Rukarara and a thermal station of 10 MM for emergency in Kigali City are planned. Also, the plan calls for rehabilitation and improvement of existing hydroelectric power station. These include the hydroelectric power stations at Muhira and Gisenyi and the rehabilitation of storage tanks of oil products in Bigogwe.
Regionally, Rwanda is reportedly involved in projects aimed at the integration of the energy sectors. Rwanda has participated in feasibility studies of Rusumo Central Falls and in sub-regional networks such as NELSAP. This network connects the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya and will be completed by 2009.
Vision 2020 calls for 573.9 billion francs to be spent improving soil protection, irrigation, water resource management, sanitation. Water and sanitation investments will account for 86 percent of the expenditure in this area with 411.7 billion francs spent in the second phase.
GLCSS believes the completion of the infrastructure investment plan will facilitate Rwandaâ€™s growth as a regional trading and transport center. This effort is being supported by other business and judicial reforms, which will be crucial to execute Vision 2020. GLCSSâ€™ economic prognosis for the region continues to be positive with improved infrastructure, diplomatic and trade relations, and increased political stability.
William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at email@example.com. GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.