Top officials from the Nile Basin Initiative have inspected ongoing works for constructing the regional Rusumo hydro project, and are satisfied it will launch in June.
Upon completion the project will generate 80MW of hydro power, shared equally between Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, each country connecting 26.6MW to its national grid.
On February 9, during a tour at the project, 10 Permanent Secretaries from The Nile Basin Initiative states revealed that completion works stand at 98.3%.
Eng Sylvester Anthony Matemu, the Secretary General of The Nile Basin Initiative, told media that: “With what we have seen, the project is at the final phase. We are expecting, if things go well, by June 2023 the power plant will be complete. The turbines are in progress; some are complete. We will go one by one but our finishing line is 2023. Through NELSAP-CU, we will hand over the plant to a joint intergorvenmental company.”
Technically, through Theonest Higaniro the Director of Power Generation and Transmission in EDCL, it is expected that the first batch of testing power transmission will commence in April whereas full power generation will be by June.
The initial completion deadline of the power plant was February 2021, later extended to end of 2021 and further into 2022, which also delayed due to factors including limitation of over sized cargo transport from overseas and road transport that limited cargo to not more than 40 to 50 tonnes, according to Bosco Mugabo, the Chief Resident Engineer in charge of Supervision, Construction and Installation works at the plant.
Mugabo said: “Heavy machinery including generators that exceeded 40 to 50 tonnes had to be dismantled, shipped in boxes and joined together at the site for installation; this hindered the installation progress. So far, everything is well installed. We are now reviewing final touches before letting the flow of water in the machines.”
Apart from the initial benefits of generating power to communities in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, it is stipulated in the design of the project that neighbouring communities will benefit from social development projects.
According to Kirehe District Mayor, Bruno Rangira, so far more than Rwf 2 billion has been invested in such projects.
H said: “We have built Kigina health centre that serves a population of more than 20,000 people. We also constructed 25 kilometers of road joining three sectors and eased transport and doing business in these areas. A tender is also under way to construct a youth centre.”
Funded by the World Bank, the Rusumo hydro project is a project under joint development by the Governments of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.