Rwanda is on track to become the first African country to provide 100% of its citizens with piped water, improving on what is already an impressive 85% countrywide access. The government is striving to ensure universal water access by 2024 through increasing investment in construction and extending water supply systems across the country, according to Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente. The country is racing against Seychelles, where 96% of households currently have piped water. Barring geographic encumbrances, that island nation could hit 100% water connectivity before Rwanda does.

At the inauguration of the new Nzove Water Treatment Plant and the upgrading of Nzove II in the capital city of Kigali, the prime minister said the attainment of such an ambitious goal required the involvement and commitment of both government and development partners in the water sector, as well as that of citizens.

“The upgraded Nzove Water Treatment Plants are a major milestone in providing access to clean drinking water for our citizens,” he said.

In its Human Development Report 2006, the United Nations Development Programme agrees that in seeking to expand access to clean water, “decisions about the appropriate public-private mix have to be taken case by case on [the basis of] local values and conditions.”

Water treatment plant. Photo credit Press picture office of the Rwandan PM

The New Times newspaper reports that the Nzove I Water Treatment Plant, which has been pumping 40 000 cubic metres per day, was upgraded to produce 65 000 cubic metres per day, while Nzove II was upgraded from 25 000 to 40 000 cubic metres per day.

According to Claver Gatete, the Minister of Infrastructure, the facilities were constructed by Culligan International East Africa and Central Asia for US$40.2 million, funded by the government of Rwanda. The investment includes forwarding infrastructure to Mont Kigali and Rebero reservoirs.

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Water projects

The government also plans to upgrade Nzove ESPINA from 25 000 to 40 000 cubic metres per day, which will bring the total water production capacity for Nzove Catchment to 145 000 cubic metres. The Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) also aims to address the issue of water shortages in in Kigali, as well as the construction of advancing infrastructure and distribution network.

“Our target is to do everything that is possible to make water available to all. To achieve this there will be construction of new water treatment plants, as well as the upgrading of existing ones in rural areas, small cities, secondary cities and in the city of Kigali,” the prime minister said.

The news site Pulse Live reports that Rwanda has also secured two loans from the African Development Bank of US$268.5 million and US$131 million respectively. The country is also sourcing additional investment from various development partners to implement a number of projects, including the upgrade, rehabilitation and extension of the Kigali Water Supply Network, to be completed by December 2020. The project is expected to boost the water supply in the suburbs of Kigali, including Kabeza, Samuduha, Busanza and Kanombe, according to the minister.

“Inadequate financing is the single most important factor affecting the continent’s fresh water delivery abilities,” Peter Akari, chief water policy officer of the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank, told Africa Renewal, a magazine published by the United Nations.

Then there is the construction of the Nzove–Ntora forwarding infrastructure, which would evacuate 70 000 cubic metres, expected to be completed by September 2021 with the support of the Japanese government.

The Rwandan government also plans to generate 40 000 cubic metres from the Kanzenze (Metito) Water Treatment Plant under a public-private partnership (PPP) framework to supply the city of Kigali and parts of Bugesera District. This is expected to be commissioned in June 2020.

Should Rwanda maintain the trajectory of all these projects and others not listed above, it could reach its target by the proposed time frame.