Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda's power plant handover set for April


What you need to know:

  • The 80-megawatt project, nearing completion at 99.9 percent, represents a joint investment of nearly $468 million by the three partner nations.

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are on track to inaugurate the transboundary Rusumo Hydropower Project in April 2024.

The 80-megawatt project, nearing completion at 99.9 percent, represents a joint investment of nearly $468 million by the three partner nations.

Implemented by the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP-CU) on behalf of the Rusumo Power Company Limited (RPCL), a special-purpose vehicle formed by the three countries, the project promises to significantly boost regional energy security and stability.

“After completing all required tests, NELSAP has signed the certificates of completion and handed over two of the three turbines to Rusumo Power Company Limited (RPCL),” said NELSAP-CU Regional Coordinator Dr Isaac Alukwe.

The programme manager of the project, Mr Alloyce Oduor, said: “All three turbines have been tested, and all of them can individually operate at 105 percent.”

In a statement issued to this paper, NELSAP revealed that between November 2023 and January 2024, the 80 MW regional Rusumo Hydroelectric Project delivered a total of 66 million kWh of electricity to three countries (Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania). Tanzania received 21 million KWh, the same as Rwanda, while Burundi received the highest allocation of 22 million KWh.

“An additional 27 MW may look relatively small, but it is significant because it will stabilise the voltage level in the north-western parts of Tanzania and make the quality of power in that region better and more reliable,” said Mr Oduor.

NELSAP has also revealed that, through this project, it's expected that by March 2024, the power grids of Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda will be fully interconnected.

“Interconnection and synchronisation of the power grids between Rwanda and Burundi have already been completed, and preparations are ongoing to finalise the synchronisation of Tanzania into the mix and create a unified pool,’ said the Rusumo Project manager.

The Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania ‘Rusumo network’ consists of 372 km of 220 kV Overhead Transmission Lines (OHTLs). The transmission lines for Burundi run from Rusumo to Muyinga and onwards to Gitega, a 16-kilometre OHTL. For Rwanda, the OHTL runs from Rusumo to Bugesera onwards to Shango, 118km OHTL, while that of Tanzania runs from Rusumo to Nyakanazi, which is 94 km OHTL.

“When completed, this interconnection will present the countries with an opportunity to trade power among themselves and even to neighbouring countries through a power ‘wheeling’ agreement,” said NELSAP-CU Regional Programmes Officer for Power and Trade, Mr Jacob Manyuon Deng.

The power utilities of the respective countries that manage the transmission lines have already signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with RPCL.

The PPA is a contractual agreement between energy buyers and sellers and through it, the parties come together and agree on how they will buy and sell energy generated by a project.

Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) signed on September 30th, 2023, while Régie de Distribution d’Eau (REGIDESO) of Burundi signed first on June 21, 2023 and Rwanda Energy Group (REG-EUCL) signed on December 1, 2023.