Power generation from Rusumo Falls starts

A view of the ongoing construction activities of the regional Rusumo Falls hydroelectric power plant in Kirehe District, Rwanda. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The project is being implemented under the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme (Nelsap)

Arusha. Finally, the World Bank-funded Rusumo hydro power plant is set for completion in June this year.

Each of the three countries involved in the project; Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda will connect their respective national grids to the plant. Todate, the $476.5 million joint project along the Rusumo river is 98.3 percent complete.

The project is being implemented under the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme (Nelsap).

The 80MW of electricity that will be generated will be shared equally by the three countries, with each connecting 26.6MW. The completion date was revealed last week during a tour of the project by permanent secretaries from the 10 states in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).

The Initiative is a partnership of the three riparian states, which seek to develop economic projects for the shared benefits.

“With what we have seen, the project is on the final phase. We are expecting, if things go well, by June 2023 the power plant will be complete,” said Sylvester A. Matemu, NBI secretary general.

He told the PSs that the turbines at the power plant were already in progress and that some are complete.

“Through Nelsap, we will hand over the plant to a joint inter-governmental company,” Mr Matemu told the delegation. According to him, senior officials from the NBI who inspected ongoing works are satisfied that it will finally be launched in June.

Reports reaching The Citizen had it that the first batch of testing power transmission will commence in April 2023.

The initial completion deadline of the power plant was February 2021, later extended to the end of 2021 and further into 2022.

Delays were, among other factors, caused by limitation of oversized cargo transport from overseas. Road rules limited cargo to not more than 40 to 50 tonnes. 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, according to supervisors at the project site, near the Rusumo bridge connecting Tanzania and Rwanda, hindered the installation progress.

Apart from the initial benefits of generating power, the communities in Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda the project will benefit from social development projects.

The Rusumo hydro power project is under joint development by the governments of Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. The community support includes allocating a fair share of electricity to be generated by the project to the local people living in the vicinity of Rusumo falls.

In Tanzania, community support projects such as health centres, water supply, roads, schools, beekeeping and others were carried out in Ngara District. The Rusumo power project will involve putting up transmission lines for electricity; 94km from Rusumo to Nyakanazi (Tanzania), 161km to Rwanda, and 194km to Burundi.

Some $129 million for the project implementation is a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) while some $347.5 million is from the World Bank.