The Rusumo Hydropower Project upon completion is expected to benefit over 500,000 households in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, according to officials.
During the ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the 80-MW regional project last Thursday, officials emphasized that the latter shows that regional countries can achieve greater development enterprises for their people when they collaborate.
The ceremony held on the banks of River Akagera in Ngara district, Tanzania, was presided over by Ministers in charge of energy from Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania and other stakeholders.
Construction of the plant is financed by the World Bank at a cost of $340 million, while transmission lines connecting the plant to national grids in the three countries are financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) at a cost of $121 million.
“This project is a sure example of what is possible when neighbouring countries cooperate and engage each other constructively for the benefit of their people,” said Dr Humphrey Richard Ndwiga, AfDB’s principal energy trading expert.
Ndwiga said the project will supply more than 500,000 regional households with electricity and offer “thousands of jobs to the youth” in the three countries.
Bella Bird, World Bank country director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia congratulated the three governments for their “collaborative effort” to bring the project to the construction phase after years of negotiations.
“This project is one that has gained great importance in the region and stands out as an example of how cooperation between nations can bring development to the people,” Bird said.
Rusumo falls was identified as a potential area for hydropower generation in 1974 but the project failed to take off. The development of the regional project idea was revived in 2006 and championed by NELSAP-CU, the investment arm of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).
Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzania’s minister of energy and minerals who was guest of honor, warned that nothing should interfere with the new push.
The commissioning of the first production unit is expected on September 31, 2019. The third and final one is expected by end of January 2020.