Israel Habimana taught himself how to become an electrician, using hydropower. Now he runs his own plant with 15 employees that has drastically changed his town's quality of life.
In Kirehe, Rwanda, a local electrician harnessed hydroelectric power to bring his town into the 21st century.
Israel Habimana taught himself how to become an electrician, using hydropower. Now he runs his own plant with 15 employees that has drastically changed their quality of life.
“It is not long since people here have known electricity, many died without having seen it,” Habimana told Reuters. ”I never went to school, but that didn't stop me from doing what I wanted to do, even if it was very difficult for me.”
The idea was born after he was sick of literally living in the dark in his Rwandan village. He built a functional electricity system without ever even having gone to school, saying his lack of formal education did not let that stop him.
Habimana got the idea for hydroelectricity after seeing a similar set-up elsewhere near the capital town of the Kirehe District.
The self-taught electrician told Reuters he learned by watching how the mini hydroelectric plant near him worked by studying and visiting constantly until he felt he knew enough to recreate it.
The dams go around rivers into waterways that feed another dam, which feeds water through a pipeline to a small plant that creates power.
It’s already yielded enormous results.
Habimana says there is safety with light. Village kids no longer have to rush to do homework before sundown.
It’s difficult for many locals to travel to public facilities far away. One woman said she felt trapped without electricity for the last 15 years.
He says he hasn’t reaped any huge rewards from his company yet, but it’s already changing people’s lives.
Since the arrival of electricity in the area, new businesses have sprung up, but in a neighboring village, at least 120 families are still waiting for electricity. HIs plant is too small to generate enough power for everyone who needs it.
Even though Habimana has gotten an investment from the government-owned Rwanda energy group, he says there have still been some obstacles, including getting materials, especially cables.
It is difficult for him to expand because the demand is high and his revenue is not.
Statistics say the number of homes with electricity access in the country has increased from 10% in 2010 to 75% in 2022.
The total number of connected households across the country is now over 2 million, but at least 1.4 million families don’t yet have access.
Still, a long, long way to go, to install a basic service in a country far too long overdue for it.