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Self-taught engineer brings hydroelectric power to Rwanda village

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Anastase Tabaro, a self-taught engineer, walks by a stream near his hydroelectricity generating station in Rutare, Rwanda.


Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Anastase Tabaro at a friend's home in Rutare, 45km north of the capital Kigali.

The European Pressphoto Agency reports — Anastase Tabaro, a self-taught engineer who had just six years of elementary-level education as a child, has built a hydroelectric system that provides power to some 700 households in and around his village in rural Rwanda.

The 59-year-old started his research in 1990 with the ultimate ambition of selling power to his neighbors, none of whom had access to electricity at that time. He built a turbine and constructed a barrage dam that he channels water from to power a generator. 

"I grew up in [neighboring] Democratic Republic of Congo and my village had electricity," Tabaro says. "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."

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Tabaro sets up a television to play a DVD at his friend's home.

Locals come to Tabaro's home to charge their cellphones, for which he charges them 20 cents apiece.

According to kumatoo.com, a website dedicated to celebrating the ingenuity of the African people, news of Tabaro's achievements has reached the capital.

The Rwandan government decided to support this project by installing electrical poles in the village to supply electricity to a dozen homes, including the church.

With electricity, it is no longer necessary in Ngororero to cut wood for cooking or to use petrol for lighting. Electricity has changed the lives of the villagers (continue reading).

Some 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.

The Guardian on Paul Kagame's Rwanda: African success story or authoritarian state?

According to the government, only 14 percent of Rwandans had access to electricity in 2011.

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Tabaro stands next to a barrage he constructed to control the amount of water passing the dam.

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Tabaro sits next to a turbine generator he has built inside his generating station.

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

People take shelter from the rain in Rutare village.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These photos were taken in May 2012 and made available to NBC News today.

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