Countries sharing Lake Kivu basin and Rusizi River water have established an authority to ensure that the water resources of the basin are well protected and managed for effective benefits.
L. Kivu and Rusizi River water is shared by Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.
The water resources are considered of great potential to the three countries especially for production of hydro power, which is essential for bridging the power deficit within the Great Lakes region.
In an exclusive interview with Vincent de Paul Kabalisa, Deputy Director General in charge of Integrated Water Resource Management in Rwanda Natural Resource Authority said the team is expected to commence operations in September 2012.
“Considering the urgent need of constructing Rusizi III project we want the team to start operating targeting in two months,” he said.
The team is composed of eight people, three Directors with one from each country and the technical team of five people.
The established Lake Kivu and River Rusizi Basin Authority (ABAKIR) is temporally to prepare and facilitate the set up of a permanent structure.
The temporally team that will run for over the 33 months of the project’s implementation period is financed by European Union up to 65 per cent and the remaining 35 per cent is to be shared among three benefiting countries.
Rusizi River has a big potential of producing 450 MW of hydro electricity while L. Kivu has the capacity to produce around 700 MW.
Some of the tasks to be performed by the authority include, improving the knowledge of the resources, its characteristics, identify its quality, quantity, its usage, planned and unplanned usage and to identify the challenges in a bid to develop a strategic plan on how to manage it.
The transitional structure of ABAKIR will also establish common tools for sustainable use and managing the water resources develop regional system for analysis of water quality and quantity and forge strong partnership among the three countries.
“The authority brings many benefits but the major one being cooperation between the partner states,” said Kabalisa.
Establishment of the authority to manage the water is also expected to attract investments and build confidence to development partners.
“Having the authority in place is a prerequisite for any investments on the water basin especially with the upcoming project to produce 147Mw from Rusizi III,” said the Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva.
The overall cost of Rusizi III hydropower scheme is estimated to be Euros 500 million and already 350 million has been disbursed by different development partners, including European Investment Bank, African Development Bank and French Development Agency.
Other expected investments on the water resources include navigation, hydro power generation and irrigation. The management will also reduce pollution around the water basins.
“Investors are willing to invest in the resources but with basic information like quality, quantity but above all, how the water is managed and the commitment from the leadership,” Nsingiyumva said.
In a similar move to manage resources shared by three countries a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to rehabilitate Rusizi I and II hydro power projects.
“If we don’t rehabilitate these infrastructures, we will be losing out because no investor would be willing to invest in Rusizi III and IV,” he said.
The pact signed by the ministers in charge of energy from the three countries provides a cooperation framework towards hiring a private firm to rehabilitate the power plant.
“It is critical for the three countries to accept that we are not good managers and we should get someone to rehabilitate and manage the project,” said Nsegiyumva recently.
Rusizi hydro power plant generates 40 per cent of the power used in the three countries.