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Rwanda to Tap From Regional Power Project

Mar 04, 2008 - Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d'Information - All Africa Global Media

Kigali - Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania are to benefit from an 80 Megawatt hydroelectric power project to be built with the help of the Nile Equatorial Lake Subsidiary Action Programme, RNA reports.

The project, which is designed to produce between 60MW and 80MW, is expected to start early next year with the construction of the $190 million Rusumo hydropower project on the Kagera River. The project will be completed by 2011.

"Although the project will contribute just 80MW to be shared by the three countries, it will impact positively on the Kigoma region, which for years has been using diesel propelled generators for electricity," said Tanzania's Commissioner for Energy and Petroleum Bashir Mrindoko, according to The East African newspaper.

The project is being implemented by Nile Equatorial Lake Subsidiary Action Programme, an investment programme of the Nile Basin Initiative.

Rwanda, like all its regional partners is experiencing power shortage owing to the booming economy and overall climatic changes that mean dams can barely generate enough power. Since 2005, there has been some power from Thermal but officials say that is not sustainable due to ever-rocketing fuel prices.

Government is also keen to have another supply from methane gas in Northern western Rwanda. There are also ongoing private sector interventions to generate electricity from wind. Last year, Rwanda also launched what has been described as 'Africa's largest' solar power plant just outside Kigali.

What is noticeable however is that programmed power-cuts commonly known as load-shedding have dropped dramatically. In the last two years, businesses had resorted to generators to keep them in the market.

The three countries have jointly requested the International Development Association (IDA) to support the preparation phase of the project and to mobilise grants and other financing for the implementation of the project.

In 2006, the three countries signed a Joint Project Development Agreement that commits them to a series of milestones, including a target date for financial closure, procedural terms for project management, adopting a development schedule and budget, and exploring all financing options including private sector participation in the project.

The project, along with other development initiatives, supports the broader Kagera Basin development goal, which is to improve livelihoods in the region through sustainable development.

A project analysis shows that outcomes at the regional level include an increase in economic activity, private sector development, and investments in social infrastructure and services facilitated by improved access to affordable electricity.

Outcomes at the project area level focus on economic development in growth centres along the regional transmission lines by improving access to electricity for micro, small and medium enterprises and environmental and social services.

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