Bujumbura, DRC — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 12 July 2011 – The government of Burundi plans to raise electricity bills for consumers by 200% “’ to partly fund additional power generation projects required for growing demand, and for increased  exploration of the country’s nickel resources.
The landlocked coffee producer of 8 million people has an installed capacity of 50MW, driving the deficit during peak hours to 25MW.

Access to electricity in the country, which is a member of the five-nation East African Community bloc, is estimated to be limited to just 3% of the population.

Officials say it requires an additional 270w in the next five years to meet a 13% growth per year in demand for electricity by households and to start exploration of nickel reserves estimated at 4.2Mt.

“In order to cope with the high demand, we need of course financial support from donors, but we must also raise the current electricity bills,“ Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri told representatives of trade unions and civil society groups.

He said the government plans to raise water and electricity bills by up to 200%. The unit cost of electricity for households was not immediately clear.

The World Bank has pledged to help the central African coffee producer increase its generation capacity through funding of a 20MW hydro power plant. The bank wants the government to encourage private investments into the sector and to diversify sources of energy.