NGORORERO - Construction works for the 27.5 MW Nyabarongo hydro power plant, the biggest of its kind in the country, have begun.
The plant, whose foundation stone was laid in Ngororero District, Western Province this week by State Minister for Energy, Eng. Albert Butare, is expected to generate 27.5 megawatts and, according to officials, heralds an end to the country’s energy woes.
Butare laid te stone at Bijyojyo hill, one of the many steep undulating slopes along River Nyabarongo in Ndaro sector.
“Our gathering at the banks of river Nyabarongo today in such a function indicates that vision 2020 is not a dream,” Butare said, expressing high hopes in overcoming the country’s energy shortages before long.
“Some of the ways of solving the energy problem in a sustainable manner involve harnessing electricity from both big and small dams on the many rivers in our country,” he explained.
The minister was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister who could not make it to the event.
“For the past two years, we conducted studies on rivers in the country that can produce energy and we now know the amount of power each can give,” he said, adding that more than 330 dam sites have been identified and construction on 25 of them was already in progress.
When completed, in about 45 months’ time, the Nyabarongo plant will be the largest domestic hydropower plant in the country, producing almost half the power currently being utilised.
Eng. Butare also told The New Times that another joint Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi 62 MW power project in Rusumo would start early next year.
According to John Milenge, the Managing Director of Electrogaz, a public utility in charge of Water and Electricity, 60 - 70 MW are produced in the peak period. He said the 27.5 MW increment would help much, especially by reducing the cost of power.
The current project’s construction cost of USD 99.7million has been partly availed by India’s Axim Bank in a USD 80 million line of credit to be refunded in 20 years.
Eng. Butare requested the locals to take good care of the dam, once finalised, because it would help them in diverse ways, including providing them with employment opportunities.
Representing the Indian Ambassador, the Indian Honorary Consul General, Vinod Tharamal, noted that it was “a good sign” that the project was already taking off since it was only six months since the contract was signed.
He explained that the project is being executed by a consortium of two experienced Indian companies, Bharat Heavy Electricals ltd (BHEL) and Angelique International Ltd under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement.
“I have full confidence that the expertise and experience of both BHEL and Angelique International would enable the project to be completed within the stipulated time,” he said.
Almost four billion Rwandan francs will be required to relocate about 4,200 people from the valleys of the river in Ngororero, Karongi and Muhanga districts in preparation for the project to be executed.