Over 82 % of Rwandans have no grid-electricity. They use kerosene lights (itadowa, itara rya peteroli), candles (buji), wooden sticks (ibishishimuzo, ibikongi), disposable batteries (amabuye y’amatoroshi na radiyo), small diesel-generators for lighting and other energy application purposes. These are expensive and bad for the environment.
Almost all pay for mobile phone charging service. They have no access to latest Information and Communication Technologies like computer, internet, mobile phone charging, printing and camera service, radio & TV post operating, fridge, etc. as well as to small machinery (For instance barber and tailoring machines) servicing.
Usage of fossil fuels and assorted items is the cause of following negative impacts:
- Social impacts: Poor health conditions and diseases and livelihoods conditions. But also poor academic performance for off-grid students.
- Environmental impacts: indoor and outdoor air pollution by carbon dioxides emissions, increased risks of houses burning and fire accidents, water contamination by disposable batteries, smoke pollution, anormal indoor temperatures and noise pollution(generator).
- Economic impacts: Expensive and unreliable in supply of fossil fuels and assorted dangerous items like disposable batteries. But also the lack of money for saving and low profit margin in business.
The chance for grid-electricity extension in near future is still small because of low national power capacity, also high costs in grid-extension and complicated and hilly topography as well as scattered dwellings in some areas.
The ambitious national energy policy targets: electricity access rate is expected to increase up to 70 % by 2017 from 18 % (currently).
In case of frequent power outages, grid-connected people have no cleaner and affordable lighting solution for emergency; they often have recourse to candles (buji) and assorted dangerous items.
The grid-connected people are confronted often with extremely expensive electricity bills when using electricity for hot water (amazi ashyushye) for bath and dishes.
The people in arid areas, and other people in dry season, are often confronted with the difficulties of getting water for drinking and or agricultural irrigation purposes.
Furthermore, over 95 % of Rwandans (urban and rural) are still using wood (charcoal, fuel wood) for cooking purposes. Increased usage of wood has negative impacts on forests, biodiversity, and on livelihood and health conditions.