5 March 2008 – It has been reported that Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania will benefit from an 80MW hydro power project to be built with help from the Nile Equatorial Lake Subsidiary Action Programme.

Hydropower1_2:2007Construction is expected to start early next year with the US$190 million Rusumo hydro plant on the Kagera River and the project is due for completion in 2011.

"Although the project will contribute just 80MW to be shared by the three countries, it will impact positively on the Kigoma region, which for years has been using diesel propelled generators for electricity," said Tanzania’s commissioner for energy and petroleum, Bashir Mrindoko, in The East African newspaper.

Rwanda is, like must of Africa, experiencing a shortage of power, particularly due to a lack of water for generation from hydro. The government has been exploring alternatives, including thermal, which is considered too expensive to be sustainable.

Other forms of generation considered include methane, wind and, what has been described as Africa’s largest solar power plant, just outside Kigali.

The three countries have applied for International Development Association support for the preparatory phase of the project and in order to mobile grants and other funding for the project.

The three countries signed a Joint Project Development Agreement in 2006, committing themselves to a series of milestones such as financial closure, procedural terms for project management, adopting a development schedule and budget, and exploring all financing options including private sector participation in the project.