Looking for water
in the drought “’
and there’s more
on the way
 
Bujumbura, Burundi — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 15 September 2011 – The Central African state of Burundi faces the prospect of suffering more power shortages in the coming months, following a serious fall of water reserves in the country’s main hydroelectric dam.

The country’s Water and Electricity Board said in a statement here that its hydroelectric plant which might stop operating if there was not sufficient rainfall, supplied 18 megawatts (MW) out of the total 42MW produced by the landlocked country.

“The water at our biggest hydroelectric dam is at its lowest level due a growing demand for electricity,” said Pascal Ndayishimiye, general manager of Burundi’s Water and Electricity Board. “The situation can become worse in the coming days if there is not enough rain to replenish the dam,” he told reporters.

The nation of eight million people has been rationing power since July, as the country undergoes a drought season until end of September. Power rationing is seriously affecting the country’s economy, with manufacturers and other business people obliged to use generators to cope with the power deficit.

Early this month the government raised electricity tariffs for consumers by 124%, to partly fund additional power generation projects and for the exploration of nickel.

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.

Authorities say Burundi requires an additional 270MW in the next five years to meet a 13% annual growth rate in demand for electricity by households, and to start exploration of nickel reserves estimated at 4.2Mt. The government is also seeking private investors who can inject money in the energy sector.