European Times: What is the mission of the Ministry of Infrastructure?
James Musoni: The ministry’s mission is to initiate programmes to develop, rehabilitate and maintain an efficient and integrated national transport network, including roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water transport, all of which contributes to Rwanda’s economic development and regional integration.
The Ministry of Infrastructure is also tasked with initiating, developing and maintaining sustainable power-generation facilities to supply clean, cost-effective and uninterrupted energy for the country, and with facilitating urban-development programmes which will ensure affordable housing for Rwanda’s population as well as access to adequate water and sanitation facilities.
European Times: What are some major milestones for your ministry in recent years?
James Musoni: In recent years, the Ministry of Infrastructure has made tremendous progress in the sectors of transport, energy, water and sanitation, housing and urban planning. For example, Rwanda now has 1,210 km of paved roads and aims to pave an additional 1,011 km of roads by 2018. Existing roads have also been improved thanks to our focus on road maintenance, with 86% of the national road network currently in good condition. The ministry aims to increase this to 95% by 2017.
Concerning air transport, Kigali International Airport’s terminal has recently been upgraded and plans are underway to resurface Kamembe Airport’s runway. We have completed the expropriation phase for the new Bugesera International Airport, and RwandAir is growing and expanding its route network.
In the water sector, the Ministry of Infrastructure, through its affiliated institutions, has now provided access to water to 75% of Rwanda’s population and the target is to reach 100% access to water by 2017.
European Times: What are some of the Ministry of Infrastructure’s current projects?
James Musoni: The ministry is currently involved in the development of several projects aimed at boosting Rwanda’s energy supplies and networks as well as promoting regional energy integration. These projects include the construction of a 98-km, 220-kV power line from Mirama in Uganda to Birembo in Rwanda which will later be upgraded to 400 kV to facilitate power trade within the region. We have also embarked on a number of on-going power-generation projects totalling around 200 MW.
Rwanda is also making great progress in speeding up border-crossing times to support regional trade. We have upgraded border posts and built new ones to provide one-stop-shop border service in order to reduce non-tariff barriers and enhance cross-border trade and employment opportunities.
Rwanda is currently participating in the regional projects to build the Dar-es-Salaam-Isaka-Kigali railway line and the Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala-Kigali line. New standard-gauge railway connections will facilitate the transport of bulk goods and reduce transport costs in Rwanda by 2018.
European Times: Does Rwanda’s infrastructure development offer opportunities for international investors?
James Musoni: There are tremendous opportunities for investors in many areas, whether through direct investment or public-private partnerships. In the transport sector, for example, these include the development of the new Bugesera International Airport, where the site is available and feasibility studies have been completed; a project to develop a rapid ferry system for passengers in highly populated areas and tourism centres; and the Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali railway project.
In the energy sector, there are many opportunities to develop hydro, peat, solar, geothermal, and methane-gas power plants as well as in converting waste to energy, establishing mini-grid electrification infrastructure, building medium-sized electricity-transmission networks, and other projects to help Rwanda reach its goal of increasing access to electricity throughout the country.
Concerning water and sanitation systems, investors can get involved in projects to upgrade and expand water-distribution systems, develop a centralised sewage system for Kigali, build water-treatment systems and generate water supplies.
Regarding housing and urban planning, projects include providing services for six secondary cities concerning public infrastructure and utilities, developing affordable housing, building stadiums, and more.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential investors and partners around the world?
James Musoni: Rwanda is one of the 21st century’s most viable investment destinations. Rwanda boasts sustainable GDP growth averaging 8% per year, an investor-friendly business climate, a ranking as the most competitive place to do business in East Africa and number three in Africa according to the WEF Global Competitiveness Index Report 2013-2014, robust governance with a clear vision for growth through private investment, political stability with a strong rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption, privileged access to the East African Community market of 145 million, excellent labour resources, many government incentives to private developers in the energy sector, and a political commitment to investment promotion.
It is our intention to become better stewards of the environment through the use of sustainable infrastructure practices. Now is the right moment for European and other investors to join Rwanda in its quest to develop world-class infrastructure.