Situated at Rusumo border, Ngara District of Tanzania, a Regional Rusumo Hydro Electric project is under construction on the Akagera River.
The 80MW plant is expected to benefit Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.
The construction of the plant, which is in progress, is financed by the World Bank at a cost of $340 million while the transmission lines that will connect the power plant to the national grids in the three countries is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) at a tune of $121 million.
Among the numerous benefits, the project will provide an additional 26.6MW to each of the beneficiary Member States and strengthen the regional power interconnection between the countries.
So far about 188 households directly affected by the projects through livelihood restoration program have benefitted from Livelihood Restoration program for Persons Affected by the Project.
The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP) will also promote the livelihoods of the 7,000 households in the beneficiary districts under the Local Area Development Plans (LADP).
LAPD has provided funds for Busoni (Kirundo province) and Giteranyi (Muyinga province) communes of Burundi, Kirehe and Ngoma districts of Rwanda and Ngara district of the United Republic of Tanzania.
LADP is a benefit-sharing program between member countries worth 15 Million US Dollars designed to enhance economic and social development in the Rusumo area as an extended program to the construction.
LADP is expected to improve community livelihoods and promote socially sustainable outcomes of the riparian citizens of the mentioned districts affected by the construction of the 80 MW Power Plant.
This is in addition to providing job opportunities for over 500 skilled, non- skilled and casual workers from the three beneficiary countries.
Construction is expected to last three years, until 2020. CGCOC Group Ltd – Jiangxi Water & Hydropower Construction Company Ltd Joint Venture (CGCOC – JWHC JV) of P.R. China will execute the Civil Works and Installation of Hydro-Mechanical Equipment, while the Consortium Rusumo Falls Andritz Hydro GmbH (Germany) and Andritz Hydro PVT Ltd (India), will supply and install Electro-Mechanical Equipment for power plant.
The Rusumo Power Plant is being implemented by the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) mandated by the three countries through the Special Purpose Vehicle, the Rusumo Power Company Ltd (RPCL).
The RPCL utility company is jointly owned by the three countries under the institutional mechanism set-up for the co-management of power generation and supply to national power utilities.
NELSAP Regional Coordinator, Eng. Elicad Elly Nyabeeya, recognises that the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydro-electric Project is complex, transboundary in nature, with a number of different components and several key stakeholders, thus demands effective coordination and management to deliver the required Power Plant, associated transmission lines, and sub-stations in a timely manner.
He says that once the project is completed, it will enhance socio-economic growth,reinforce regional cooperation, partnership and peace within the Akagera River Basin countries.
Geographical and historical detail
The Rusumo falls is located on the Kagera River on the border between Rwanda (Southeast) and Tanzania (Northwest) and about 25 kilometers downstream of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania common border point.
The Falls are approximately 15 meters high and 40 meters wide.
The catchment at the falls drains to the territories of Tanzania & Rwanda.
The Rusumo falls was identified as a potential area for hydropower generation as early as 1970s, to address inadequate energy, which is one of the major socio-economic development challenges facing Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, which still have low rates of electricity access.
Although the three partner states discussed over several years to move Rusumo falls project forward, implementation of the highly needed project was not forthcoming due to a number of reasons, including lack of commitment from the partner states, lack of investment finance, civil conflict as well as absence of a joint institution to coordinate the project.
The development of the Regional Rusumo Hydroelectric Project idea was revived in 2006 and championed by Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU), the investment arm of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).
The Project design is a Run-of-River Development Scheme with a normal operating water level of 1,320 meters above mean sea level. The Run of River Development Scheme was selected by the beneficiary governments, because it maintains the natural flow of the river and does not significantly modify the natural environment; it minimizes environmental and social impacts of the project and provides for the least cost implementation for environmental management and resettlement.
The NILE BASIN INITIATIVE
The NBI is a regional intergovernmental partnership launched by the Nile Basin countries on 22nd February, 1999 to manage and develop the shared Nile Basin water resources in a cooperative manner, share substantial socio-economic benefits and promote regional peace and security.
NBI Member States are 10 namely: Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea participates as an observer.
The partnership is guided by a Shared Vision Objective: ‘To achieve sustainable socio-economic development through equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources’.
The setup of NBI is informed by the principle of subsidiarity, hence the three NBI Centres: A Regional Secretariat (Nile-SEC) based in Entebbe, Uganda is the executive arm responsible for the overall corporate direction.
Two subsidiary Action Programs offices namely the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) based in Kigali, Rwanda are responsible for preparing investment projects of regional significance in three key areas namely Energy, Agriculture and River Basin Management& development.