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Anastase Tabaro, Inventor and Entrepreneur

Photographer: Dai Kurokawa

 

Anastase Tabaro, aged 59, a self-taught hydropower inventor and entrepreneur who only had six years of primary level education as a child, has built hydroelectric systems in several villages, providing electricity to some 700 households. He started his research in 1990 to build an electrical generation system with the aim to sell it to the villagers around his home where nobody had electricity. He built a turbine and constructed a barrage dam where he channels water from to power the generator. His project was interrupted by the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, but he restarted later and completed his first hydroelectric system in 2000. 'I grew up in (neighboring) Democratic Republic of Congo and my village had electricity. Then my family moved to Rwanda and our village had no electricity. I felt I couldn't live without electricity so I started to research by myself', Tabaro recalls.

 

Villagers come to Tabaro's home every day to charge their mobile phones, for which he bills 20 cents. Some villagers have even bought televisions and DVD players now that they have electricity supplied by Tabaro's system. 'It's like a magic. Now my family can enjoy watching a movie, listening to a radio at our home. He's our man, our hero,’ a resident of Rutate village says. Tabaro's reputation has reached the capital, prompting the Ministry of Infrastructure to supply electrical poles to villages to expand the project to provide more people with electricity. 'It would have been impossible to expand like this without their help, so I thank the government for their support. However, I need more money so that I can expand more and our children can study even at night to help develop our country', the father of six says.

 

According to the Rwandan government, approximately 14 percent of Rwandans had access to electricity in 2011, up seven percent from 2009. But the figure is much lower in rural areas where 90 percent of population lives. The country aims to increase the access rate to 16 percent by 2012.