18 April 2012 – The cross border 90 MW Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project is expected to cost US$6.4 billion. This will include about US$4 billion for construction of the power generation project, with the remaining funds to be used for the resettlement plan, environment restoration, engineering and setting up of transmission lines. These power transmission lines will connect the plant to the electricity grids of Burundi (Gitega), Rwanda (Shango) and Tanzania (Nyakanazi).
The World Bank has agreed to finance the project that is to be jointly developed by Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The power facilities will be located on the right bank of the Kagera River in Tanzania, while the river diversion channel and substation will be located on the left bank, in Rwanda.
A decision was reached in February this year after the ministers responsible for electricity from the three countries met and agreed that the project should provide multi-purpose use of water and energy resources with investment in sustainable livelihoods in the project area. This came after Burundi and Rwanda complained that the hydropower project would have many effects on its populations. Construction of the power project is expected to start by mid 2013 and then would be commissioned in 2017-18.
The project takes advantage of the natural falls at Rusumo. The Kagera River will be dammed and a water reservoir will be established upstream of the falls, near the international bridge at the border between Rwanda and Tanzania. The reservoir will expand upstream of the dam to the west along the Kagera River up to Lake Rweru, as well as along the Ruvubu River to the south. Some banks of the Kagera and Ruvubu Rivers and Lake Rweru will be inundated in Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
The reservoir along the Kagera and Ruvubu rivers as well as around Rweru Lake will cover about 38,500 hectares, of which some 15,000 hectares are under water, thus the additional surface of land which will be permanently covered by water is 23,500 hectares. This land will need to be vacated around years 2017-2018 before commissioning of the dam is complete.