Thursday, 31 January 2013

EWSA to adopt new power pricing system

In a bid to resolve complaints electricity consumers have been raising over cash power renting and the increase in prices of power, the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) is working on a project that provides options to pay electricity according to how much consumers use.

The move follows a recommendation for change after a question raised by a customer over prices, especially the cash power monthly due, during last year’s National Dialogue.

Speaking to The New Times, Lucien Ruterana, the strategic advisor to Director General of EWSA, who is leading the team which is currently working on the project, said they will soon initiate a system under which clients will be charged according to the quantity of units used per month.

Under the same system, the Rwf 500 for cash power renting every month will be scrapped.

“We carefully carried out a study on electricity prices so that in the future we can render better service to our customers. We will not identify clients’ capacities through their earnings; we will distinguish them according to the quantity of electricity they consume,” he said, adding that under the new system, the more you consume, the more you pay, an existing procedure for the EWSA’s bills for water.

According to Ruterana, this study was submitted to the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) for review and the ministry approved it. It will be published in February. 

Marie Françoise Isumbingabo, the State Minister in charge of Energy and Water yesterday declined to comment  when contacted.  

Currently, the lowest price anyone can pay to have power is Rwf500 which is an equivalent of 3 units, with a charge of Rwf 134 per Kwh.

Prices differ from peak to the off peak hours for industrial consumers.

Some consumers welcomed the move, saying this will help curb the inconsistencies in payments made.

My dream is to be a Rwandan citizen - Briton

Usabyamahoro and Rebecca hoist their nine-month-old baby, Keza.

A Green Card and other attempts to get permanent residence or citizenship in the US and other Western countries is usually every one’s dream. That is why Rebecca Shrubsole’s decision to leave England for Rwanda received mixed reactions.

Now called Rebecca Usabyamahoro and applying for Rwandan citizenship, the 28-year-old started dreaming about coming to Africa at a tender age.

“I used to tell my mother that my children will be Africans and she encouraged me to follow my heart. but my father was against this,” Rebecca said during the interview at her home in Nyamirambo where, in 2010, she married Evode Usabyamahoro, alias Commando, 37, a former street child, who was running humanitarian services. 

The two met in 2008 when Rebecca travelled to Rwanda for the first time.

“When I was six, my classmates chose me to visit the survivors of the Jewish Holocaust. 

The motto I found there was ‘Genocide, Never Again’. This confused me because I read about other genocides in Cambodia later.” 

She later heard about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and the ‘Never Again’ slogan.

“Many things came into my mind. Like how do these survivors live, who cares for them and many others,” she says.

So in 2008, while an undergraduate in the Faculty of Sociology at Goldsmiths College University of London, she resolved to visit Rwanda. Here, she met Usabyamahoro, who was helping street children.

“The Youth for Christ Organisation linked me to Usabyamahoro, who was struggling to look after children he had picked from the streets. I understood this was my call to support the community; God had told me earlier before that He would give me a great family; they were my children.”

The beginning of Usabyamahoro’s project was hard. Rebecca could only afford Rwf30,000 per month to rent a house for the 30 children. The first house had neither water, nor electricity and the latrine was run down.

Rebecca returned to school in England in September 2008 and started rallying support to help street children. After graduating in 2010, she returned to Rwanda to marry Usabyamahoro.

Now a mother of nine-month-old Jennifer Lucy Usabyamahoro Keza, Rebecca is also a ‘mother’ of many former street children in their 14-bedroom house in Rwezamenyo cell, Nyarugenge district.

The project

The children in this rehabilitation centre dubbed Ubaka u Rwanda (Build Rwanda), registered in Nyarugenge district and in England, are aged between 10 and 22 and have all been taken off the street since 2002. 

As part of rehabilitation process, they send them to school with support from well wishers.

So far, 28 children have graduated from the centre and returned home. Others (28) are in primary and 10 attend basic education.

Usabyamahoro spent Rwf18m to put up a library, sports room, living room, three dormitories and reading rooms, a computer room equipped with three laptops and kitchen facilities for his ‘family’.

Government launches mass distribution of mosquito nets

The distribution of nets will help eliminate malaria by 2017.

Nyagatare– The Ministry of Health on Tuesday launched mass distribution of long lasting mosquito nets in Rurenge village, Rukomo sector in Nyagatare district, one of the high malaria transmission areas.

The event was presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, who encouraged the public to exercise maximum co-operation with the government in the effort to eliminate malaria in the country.

In her address, the minister said although malaria was a deadly killer, it could be defeated if the public co-operated and supported government’s efforts to fight it.

She said elimination of malaria by 2017 would allow the government to focus its efforts in fighting other diseases.

“We want zero malaria cases in our country by 2017. It is our duty as Rwandans to fight malaria. People must use mosquito nets effectively,” she said.

She further informed the gathering that the ministry will continue to look at all the possible measures to combat malaria.

 “After  distributing nets in all malaria prone areas, we expect to see a drop in malaria cases as an indication that people are using these nets and that the whole exercise is bearing fruits.”

According to Dr Corine Karema, the head of Division, Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the two-day country-wide campaign would see at least 1.7 million children under the age of five years, receive mosquito nets.

She said malaria affected mainly children under five years and pregnant women, adding that Eastern Province had the highest cases of malaria.

“Eastern Province has 70 per cent of malaria cases while Nyagatare is the most affected district with 50 per cent. This explains why we launched the campaign here,” she said.

It emerged some residents were going to use the mosquito nets for the first time in their lives.

“I can’t express my happiness enough, I have never slept under a mosquito net. The government has done great to protect my children from malaria,” said a jovial Harriettee Dusingizimana.

Rwanda is among nine countries that were this week recognised for their significant contribution in the fight against malaria. 

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Forum on Monday awarded Rwanda with two anti-Malaria awards in the categories of ‘Policy’ and ‘Impact and Implementation.’ 

The Demographic Health Survey (DHS), conducted in 2010, indicates that malaria prevalence decreased from 2.6 in 2008 to 1.4 in 2010 in children under five, and from 1.4 in 2008 to 0.7 in 2010 in pregnant women.

The rate of malaria cases treated after laboratory confirmation was 96 per cent in 2011.

Renewed requests to extradite Ahorugeze

Ahorugeze during a news conference in Stockholm in July 2011 shortly after the Swedish court freed the Genocide suspect.

Rwanda intends to file a fresh plea to the Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Right to have Genocide suspect Sylvere Ahorugeze extradited. The court last year rejected an appeal by Ahorugeze, who was challenging a Swedish court’s decision to extradite him.

Alleged to have played a key role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that left more than a million people dead, Ahorugeze was arrested in 2008 in Sweden as he tried to renew his family’s passports at the Rwandan embassy. He is particularly suspected of being responsible for the murders of about 30 families.

Ahorugeze’s extradition was initiated by Sweden, but after being held in custody for three years, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no reason to detain him while the decision from Europe was taking time. Following his release, he returned to his abode in Denmark.

But in October 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was in order for Sweden to authorise his extradition. The decision was challenged at the highest authority, the Grand Chamber, which also decided not to review the case.

However, since Ahorugeze resides in Denmark–a country he stayed in before and turned down Rwanda’s request to extradite him - the Rwandan authorities would be turning to the Danish judicial system if they want Ahorugeze extradited. The Danes have so far been unwilling to cooporate.

“We shall instruct our lawyers in Europe to seek fresh orders from the European Court of Human Rights to compel Denmark to comply with and extradite Ahorugeze,” Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga told The New Times yesterday.

Rwanda has for long blamed Western countries, including France, for intentionally and deliberately refusing to extradite Genocide suspects.

“We may not succeed with actual apprehension of some of these fugitives who are enjoying themselves in Europe, but we shall succeed in pushing European politicians to a point where they can not disguise. They either respect or disregard their own judiciary,” Ngoga said.

Ahorugeze is also accused of participating in the killing of hundreds of Tutsis, especially in Gikondo, a Kigali City suburb.

 Born in 1956, Ahorugeze served as Director of the Rwandan Civil Aviation Authority and Kigali International Airport in 1994.

Police hosts female officers convention

Female officers of the Rwanda National Police during the convention at Petit Stadium in Remera yesterday. Police chief Emmanuel Gasana said policies have been streamlined to ease work for policewomen.

Plans are underway to build a polytechnic school at Gishari in the Eastern Province to equip female Police personnel with skills in plumbing, mechanics, construction, among others.

This was announced at a Police Women Convention yesterday at Remera Stadium in Kigali.

The annual meeting brings together countrywide policewomen with their leaders to discuss job-related issues.

Speaking at the meeting, the IGP Emmanuel Gasana said it has become a custom for Rwanda National Police (RNP) women to meet and discuss gender challenges as part of government’s efforts to promote women in all sectors.

Favourable policies

Gasana said transfers have been effected for policewomen so as to work near their homes. This, he said, would help ease the women’s family responsibilities, adding that it is in response to some of the requests made last year.

Part of the recognition of their capacity, Gasana said, was to send 154 female police personnel to various international peacekeeping missions and 57 for further studies.

He commended the female officers for the great job of securing people in Rwanda and their properties. He urged them to encourage more women to join RNP.

Gasana said women trust female officers when it comes to investigating gender-based violence cases, which ease and speed up the process of delivering justice.

At the function, Internal Security Minister Musa Fazil Harelimana promised to work closely with whoever helps in promoting RNP women to enable the force  achieve its mission.

“When you invite me to such a meeting, I feel you help me more achieve my obligations to the service of our nation and the President, who is often telling us that Rwanda cannot develop once women are left behind,” Sheikh Harelimana said.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

kLab livens tech scene

Young ICT innovators at K-lab share ideas on how to develop software. 

Rwanda’s ICT innovation is quickly gaining momentum due to the fact that some young technology graduates are actively engaged in software applications thanks to kLab innovation centre. 

kLab, an open technology hub for IT entrepreneurs located at Telecom House in Kacyiru, provides a platform for developers, IT enthusiasts and interested parties of a growing ICT community to collaborate and innovate.

The innovation centre has formally unveiled its flagship pioneering ICT projects such as crowd funding (eNkunga), Kigalicc app, ‘sarura’, and unified school system.

The software applications have been developed and implemented by some of its startup IT innovators.

“These software applications have been developed to address the enormous community needs by providing easy access to relevant information. We are proud that our start–ups are bearing fruits with the successful implementation of big innovations in the Rwandan ICT sector as kLab tenants,” Claude K. Migisha, the General Manager of kLab told The New Times.

He stated that the growing kLab community is also made of experienced mentors who provide both technical and business assistance to needy members.

kLab also hosts events, workshops, bootcamp, hackathons and networking sessions to promote partnerships, investment and financing.

Migisha further noted that the innovative mobile web applications represent kLab’s contribution to address Rwandan community needs through embracing and proper usage of the open space for collaboration and innovation.

At the kLab, IT enthusiasts passionately work on applications, and their mission is to see the hub become like the famed Silicon Valley of the USA.  

Silicon Valley is home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations, like Miscrosoft, Google, Facebook and HP, as well as thousands of small innovative start-ups.

Migisha said that kLab’s mission is to promote, facilitate and support the development of innovative ICT solutions by nurturing a vivid community of entrepreneurs and mentors.

The Unified School System web application developed by Jean Pierre Habinshuti, an ICT entrepreneur, will help promote the Rwandan education system through facilitating parents to effectively participate in the education of their children. The application is available and accessible to all schools in the country.

“There has been a major problem of lack of standard student progressive report form, so this application will help parents use a unique source comprising a serial number and document authenticity tracking tool to access their children’s report forms,” explained Habinshuti.

Kigalicc app, developed by Spiderbit Limited, is a free mobile web application that will run on all mobile devices and tablets will enable visitors to Rwanda to access all information regarding restaurants, hotels, entertainment places, taxis and a dictionary, to facilitate them effectively learn and communicate in Kinyarwanda with just a click.

As for ‘eNkunga’ it is a crowd funding project developed by Zilencio Creativo limited, winner of the best start-up award 2012 in the Startup World competition for the most innovative project.

“eNkunga was conceived following a need to finance individuals and organisations who find the traditional means of financing their ventures too taxing and discouraging,” said Ara Nashera, the Director of Zilencio Creativo.

Nashera stated that regarding transforming lives in Rwanda, “we can only attribute that to the projects we are yet to see as we shall start with kLab members’ projects and then other project owners.”

“We believe ideas are only great when they have beneficiaries, we are using technology to facilitate ideas to impact our community.”

‘Sarura’, developed by OSCA Connect limited, is an automated voice SMS application to help farmers easily access relevant agriculture information and weather updates through their mobile phones.

“We are now working with one cooperative in Kigali for this solution implementation and agriculture institutions to manage the contents. It costs Rwf80 to request for information,” said Esther Kunda, the CEO of OSCA Connect Ltd.

Since the establishment of kLab a year ago, Rwandan ICT innovators have increased in number.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2012 report ranked Rwanda among six developing countries that are most dynamic performers when it comes to ICT development.

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