Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Utilizing Utilities in Kigali

If you are settling into life in Kigali, it is essential to have all the necessary information about utilities in the city. Overlooking these details can lead to frustration and inconvenience, so we aim to ensure that your transition to life in Kigali is seamless and hassle-free, starting with the essential information about utilities.

Electricity (Pre-paid)

The only electricity provider in Rwanda is Rwanda Energy Group. Every house (or apartment complex) has a little electricity meter installed, where you fill up with pre-paid electricity credit, also known as ‘cash power’.

To convenient buy cash power, we recommend using MTN Mobile Money, otherwise known as MOMO. Take note of the 11-digit meter number (written on the box of your meter), and dial *182#, and follow the options given. Once you’ve paid, you will receive a message with a 20-digit number, which you type into the meter, and voilà! you’ve got the power!

From time to time, the power goes out in some places Kigali. Before you patiently wait for it to come back on, check the electricity meter to make sure you didn’t just run out of credit. If the little window is empty, the power is out – if it shows 0.0 you need to go buy more cash power, my friend.

The rare time power goes out, it is usually back within a few minutes unless there is a planned power outage. Make sure to follow REG on twitter; they tend to tweet about any planned power outages.


Water MeterWhenever there is heavy rains, some places in Kigali might be without water for up to a day or sometimes more. Thus – even if you live in a fancy house – keep a jerry-can of water around, so you at least can take a bucket shower in case of emergency. But most apartments will have big water tanks for those moments. Follow the water provider, WASAC, on Twitter to know when to expect water shortage.

The water bill is sent to your landlord (or directly to you if you own a house), and to pay it you use MOMO, by dialing *182*3#.

It is totally fine to brush your teeth with tap water in Kigali, and while WASAC says the water produced by the utility can be consumed, many Rwandese and expats prefer buying drinking water from Jibu, which comes in big cylindrical shapes that can be refilled for a small amount.


Gas TankMost stoves and ovens run on gas, meaning you’ll have a big gas container somewhere in your kitchen. The gas containers usually last for months, but it really depends on how often you use it. When you do run out, you need to go to a gas station or a supermarket to buy a new one. There are also some shops that sell them. The empty container is dropped off at the gas station or supermarket and you head off with a full one. There are different container sizes.

When turning on the gas, you twist the metal wheel on top, next to where the tube connects the container to the stove. Some people twist the gas shut again after every time they use it, but personally I just keep it open at all times – I mean, what’s the chance of a leaking, eh?

When you do run out, remember that the empty gas tank is a lot lighter than the new, full one that will replace it. So, you’ll probably need a car, taxi, or a moto and big, strong housemates to make the swap from empty to full.

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  1. Just a friendly note to those who have to pay their water bills: Keep the receipts, all of them. Electrogaz has a bad habit of claiming you haven’t paid for previous months you have already paid for. Despite having a computerized system they seem to think that it’s up to the consumer to prove that they have paid rather than them keeping adequate records of your payments.

    • Thanks for the heads up. We’ve also had some crazy, inexplicable charges. For example, one bill was for Rwf 70,000 when we normally pay about Rwf 7,000. We’re still working on sorting this out. So stay on top of your water bills. 🙂

    • Hey Val… I pay Rwf 21,000 a month for internet with MTN. I buy a phone card and use my smartphone as a router. Although you can also buy a USB modem and use that. Tigo costs Rwf 3,500 a week and, while it isn’t unlimited, the limit would be fine unless you’re going t attempt downloading things a lot.

      Not sure about home internet… sorry! One thing to keep in mind about that is that it relies on power and power has been crappy here lately. The phone option doesn’t require electricity… plus you can take it with you anywhere. Gives you some options if you get sick of working from home.


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