By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame likes to say that he is a highly competent chief operations officer of Rwanda Inc. The 2017 Auditor General’s Report shows the reverse. CEO Kagame has an egg on his face. Delayed and abandoned projects by different government entities are costing Rwanda a fortune — US$241 Million (RWF206.8 Billion) to be exact.
An astonishing scandal
As of June 2017, the number of delayed and abandoned projects was 109. These projects are spread across government at both national and sub-national levels. Much of the US$241 Million was tied up in infrastructure, especially electricity. And much of this is donor money.
An example of abandoned projects is the construction of substations of 220 KV transmission system connecting Kibuye-Karongi-Rubavu-Goma-Kigali. The total cost of the project is US$26.9 Million (RWF 23.8 Billion). Work started in November 2013. The project was to be completed by October 2015. The project remains in shambles for years later. As the Auditor General explains,
”The audit identified that the contractor had abandoned the works. EDCL has not yet contracted another contractor to complete the abandoned works and hence no progress with construction of the substations. Completed works may start deteriorating and electricity is not being transmitted to some areas as it was envisaged due to incomplete substations.”
An example of delayed projects is the Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rwanda. In December 2014, the Government of Rwanda signed a loan agreement worth US$21.2 Million with the African Development Bank for setting up the Centre. The implementation period was 5 years ending 7 December 2019. As the Auditor General states, however,
“the audit identified that the project only executed 3.41% of its budget for the year ended 30 June 2017.”
The 2017 Auditor General report makes a sad reading about an astounding waste of vital projects that could improve Rwandan lives. Sadly, most of the delayed and abandoned development projects are in a sector that is already pathetic – electricity generation and transmission. The US$241 Million scandal is indictment of the Rwandan dictator as well as donors who pump these resources without accountability.