NYAMAGABE — Arrangements are underway to start the construction of a hydro power generation plant on the Rusumo falls, a project expected to boost the country’s electricity generation capacity.
The project expected to start next year will be funded by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other development partners, according to Gaspard Bikwemu, the vice president of Akagera project, the project charged with the protection of natural resources in the Akagera river basin located in eastern Rwanda. "The feasibility study is in its final stages. We are now looking at the impact the project will have on the environment, the projected cost and the size. Once all this is finalised, the project is expected to kick off early next year," he said during celebrations to mark the Nile Day last week in Nyamagabe.
The Akagera project is one of the many projects under the Nile Basin Initiative that brings together the four countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania that share the Akagera River, an affluent of Lake Victoria, believed to be the main the source of River Nile.
Bikwemu stressed the importance of the tree planting campaign saying, "Trees prevent the eroding of fertile soil and allows water to sink into the ground to rejuvenate the natural water sources."
He said that soils washed away into the Akagera affect greatly the flow of the Nile and the quality of the water used by people in the Nile countries.
This year’s Nile Day was celebrated under the theme: ‘Cooperation on the Nile: Sustaining our life, our future.’ As part of the celebrations, trees were planted in Kamegeli Sector in order to protect the Mwogo stream believed to be the primary source of the Nile.
Remy Mugunga, an official from the Ministry of Water and Mines who represented the line minister at the function, said poverty is the major challenge facing people in the Nile countries; partly blamed for environmental degradation.
"There should be greater cooperation in investments aimed at reducing poverty because poverty leads to environmental degradation and civil conflicts," said Mugunga.
The district Mayor, Alphonse Munyantwali, urged area residents to preserve Mwogo River by planting enough trees on all surrounding hills which are largely bare.
The Nile basin Initiative brings together the countries of Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea currently participates in the NBI as an observer. It is expected to join the group in the near future.
The Nile Basin is characterized by water scarcity, poverty, a long history of conflicts and insecurity, a rapidly growing populations and a rising demand of water.
It seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner, share substantial socio-economic benefits, and promote regional peace and security.
The Nile Basin Initiative started with a participatory process of dialogue amongst the nine Nile countries that resulted in their agreement on a shared vision—to "achieve sustainable socio-economic development through the equitable utilisation of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources.