The Rwandan government prioritized funding of water supply development during the 2000s, significantly increasing its share of the national budget. This funding, along with donor support, caused a rapid increase in access to safe water; in 2015, 74% of the population had access to safe water, up from about 55% in 2005; the government has committed to increasing this to 100% by 2017. The country’s water infrastructure consists of urban and rural systems that deliver water to the public, mainly through standpipes in rural areas and private connections in urban areas. In areas not served by these systems, hand pumps and managed springs are used. Despite rainfall exceeding 750 millimeters (30 in) annually in most of the country, little use is made of rainwater harvesting, and residents are forced to use water very sparingly, relative to usage in other African countries. Access to sanitation remains low; the United Nations estimates that in 2006, 34% of urban and 20% of rural dwellers had access to improved sanitation. Government policy measures to improve sanitation are limited, focusing only on urban areas. The majority of the population, both urban and rural, use public shared pit latrines.
Rwanda’s electricity supply was, until the early 2000s, generated almost entirely from hydroelectric sources; power stations on Lakes Burera and Ruhondo provided 90% of the country’s electricity. A combination of below average rainfall and human activity, including the draining of the Rugezi wetlands for cultivation and grazing, caused the two lakes’ water levels to fall from 1990 on wards; by 2004 levels were reduced by 50%, leading to a sharp drop in output from the power stations. This, coupled with increased demand as the economy grew, precipitated a shortfall in 2004 and widespread load shedding. As an emergency measure, the government installed diesel generators north of Kigali; by 2006 these were providing 56% of the country’s electricity, but were very costly. The government enacted a number of measures to alleviate this problem, including rehabilitating the Rugezi wetlands, which supply water to Burera and Ruhondo and investing in a scheme to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu, expected in its first phase to increase the country’s power generation by 40%. Only 18% of the population had access to electricity in 2012, though this had risen from 10.8% in 2009. The government’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2013–18 aims to increase access to electricity to 70% of households by 2017.
The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, with aid from the United States, European Union, Japan, and others. The transport system consists primarily of the road network, with paved roads between Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is linked by road to other countries in the East African Community, namely Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya, as well as to the eastern Congolese cities of Goma and Bukavu; the country’s most important trade route is the road to the port of Mombasa via Kampala and Nairobi, which is known as the Northern Corridor. The principal form of public transport in the country is the minibus, accounting for more than half of all passenger carrying capacity.
Some minibuses, particularly in Kigali, operate an unscheduled service, under a shared taxi system, while others run to a schedule, offering express routes between the major cities. There are a smaller number of large buses, which operate a scheduled service around the country. The principal private hire vehicle is the motorcycle taxi; in 2013 there were 9,609 registered motorcycle taxis in Rwanda, compared with just 579 taxicabs. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries. The country has an international airport at Kigali that serves several international destinations, the busiest routes being those to Nairobi and Entebbe; there is one domestic route, between Kigali and Kamembe Airport near Cyangugu. In 2017, construction began on the Bugesera International Airport, to the south of Kigali, which will become the country’s largest when it opens, complementing the existing Kigali airport.
The national carrier is Rwandair, and the country is served by seven foreign airlines. As of 2015 the country has no railways, but there is a project underway, in conjunction with Burundi and Tanzania, to extend the Tanzanian Central Line into Rwanda; the three countries have invited expressions of interest from private firms to form a public private partnership for the scheme. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists and the government has initiated a programme to develop a full service. The Ministry of Infrastructure is also investigating the feasibility of linking Rwanda to Lake Victoria via shipping on the Akagera River.