Gakenke and Muhanga, Rural Energy Access Program
The government of Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation aims to make Rwanda among the first countries in Africa to achieve universal electrification.

This target is a key component of Rwanda’s national development plans and aligns with global Sustainable Development Goals.



In August 2022 SMEC was appointed by the Energy Development Corporation Ltd to undertake site construction supervision of rural electrification works in the Gakenke & Muhanga districts.


The project scope included the construction of approximately 174km of medium voltage and 575km of low voltage lines to connect 24,013 households. Navigating the challenges of mountainous terrain and complex land acquisition processes, SMEC’s team brought expertise in design optimization, construction methods, and project management.


Timely completion was key to the client and stakeholders to meet the projected program to connect the target customers.



Leveraging its in depth knowledge of the Rwandan power network system, SMEC deployed a team of technical experts and environment and social experts with experience in power distribution and substation planning and design. SMEC’s role included:

  • Review and approval of the Contractor’s detailed design and as-built drawings
  • Supervision of civil and erection works on site
  • Monitoring of procurement, delivery and management of materials and equipment
  • Supervision of site testing and commissioning of equipment
  • Carrying out Factory Acceptance Tests of major equipment and materials
  • Contract administration including billing procedures, verification and certification
  • Monitoring of Environmental and Social Management Plans
  • Preparation of monthly and quarterly project progress reports and Project Completion Report.

Mountainous landscapes and dense vegetation made access to project sites extremely difficult. SMEC worked closely with the contractor to overcome challenges related to the transportation of materials, equipment, and personnel.


Detailed pre-construction surveys were undertaken to identify optimal routes and anticipate access issues. In some instances, manual labour was necessary to prepare foundations for poles in areas inaccessible by machinery. In these instances, SMEC monitored sites to ensure adherence to health and safety protocols.


SMEC also conducted environmental assessments and oversaw negotiations with landowners. This extended to dispute resolution and obtaining necessary permits to expedite the program.  During the design phase we made amendments to avoid distribution lines passing through national parks.


Through meticulous design reviews, SMEC was able to streamline the project, reducing unnecessary material use and optimizing infrastructure placement. Our on-site supervisors diligently monitored the construction process, ensuring quality standards and adherence to safety protocols. Outcomes of the project include:

  • cost-effective electricity services
  • reliable electricity supply for households and priority public institutions
  • strengthened institutional capacity for managing agencies.

This electrification project has far-reaching benefits for the communities of Gakenke and Muhanga. Access to reliable electricity acts as a catalyst for economic empowerment, enabling the growth of small businesses, creating job opportunities, and sparking local entrepreneurship. Educational opportunities can also expand as children are able to study after dark and access online resources. Health and well-being improve with better-equipped clinics and the adoption of cleaner cooking methods. Finally, communities experience a social transformation with access to information, greater connectivity, enhanced safety, and a thriving night-time economy.

Medium voltage cable
Low voltage cable
Households connected to the grid