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Burundi’s national power grid benefits additional 15MW

For the Chinese Ambassador to Burundi Zhao Jiangping, the commissioning of the hydropower plant of Ruzibazi denotes yet a step ahead regarding strengthening the Sino- Burundian cooperation.

Burundi has been granted additional 15 Megawatts (MW) from Ruzibazi hydropower plant in a bid to half power cuts thus contribute to socio-economic development.

The President of Burundi commissioned on the 6th of September 2022, the Ruzibazi hydropower project in Rumonge province (Southwest of Burundi) at 43km from Bujumbura capital city.

In his speech, Ndayishimiye encouraged the population of Burundi and Rumonge in particular to fully benefit from this power though initiating projects that generate income and use it wisely.

“I am delighted that the energy deficiency in Burundi is progressively being addressed, thus enhancing people’ s livelihoods, as the diversified and versatile sources of power contribute towards boosting the socio-economic operators’ output capacity,” said Evariste.

The Ruzibazi hydropower project was handed to the government of Burundi by a Chinese company SINO HYDRO.

For the Chinese Ambassador to Burundi Zhao Jiangping, the commissioning of the hydropower plant of Ruzibazi denotes yet a step ahead regarding strengthening the Sino- Burundian cooperation.

“China is committed to energy self-sufficiency, this is the beginning baseline for a win-win cooperation between our two countries,” said Zhao.

As for the General Director in the Department of African Affairs Wu Peng he twitted that he is sure the power plant will inject more impetus into the development of the country.

The hydropower project brings in 15MW to add to the existing power nation grid of 32MW which will aggregate up to 42MW.

It, however, comprises of a gravity dam, a headrace, a powerhouse, a return channel, a transformer station and an electrical transmission line.

Of the production, according to the spokesperson of SINO HYDRO Lin Bigirimana, there is will be a two-fold transmission lines, the first will be directed to Rumonge (5MW) and the second to Kabezi (15MW).

As of today, the population with access to electricity has increased but remains low, rising from 1.87% in 1997 to 11.7% in 2020 which an increase of close to 10% in almost two decades.

However, the National Development Plan 2018-2027 reports that Burundi expects at least 400 MW for industrialization purposes as well as 412 MW for the mining sector by 2027. By the same time, the energy deficit will be estimated at 566 MW, reflecting the need for energy consumption.

Apart from Ruzibazi hydropower project, other power plants are under construction including Jiji and Mulembwe now 39% with its capacity of 44MW, Kabu 16 of 20 MW now at 83% progress.

As of Rusumo falls hydroelectric power station of 80 MW, the progress of the civil engineering and electromechanical is almost completed, ready to be commissioned as of recent updates from the stations.

As of today, the population with access to electricity has increased but remains low, rising from 1.87% in 1997 to 11.7% in 2020 which an increase of close to 10% in almost two decades.

When sustainable business equals owning generators

The commissioning of Ruzibazi hydropower plant coupled with repetitive blackout observed in town. For a sustainable business, people turned to generator as a substitute to power shortages.

“I am planning to open a barber. With the power of REGIDESO ( a state-owned entity of water and energy) there is no guarantee of my business as a back-up I have ordered a small generator at ADAMS Trading in Quartier Asiatique,” said Claudia Butoyi a resident of Kanyosha, South of Bujumbura.

Asked whether she hopes the additional MW will help, she said that the future will tell, rather she hopes that power cuts will be decreased.

In Bujumbura town hall, businessmen applauded the initiative but chose to stay optimist as the problem has been there for long.

Papy Tuyishimire aged 35, owner of bakery, said that if well managed the 15MW probably will alleviate the burden of supplying fuel every time there is power cut.

At least 3 times a week I use generator to sustain my activities and it cost me around BIF 50,000 per week.

However, owing a generator is a prestige of well-to-do families, as said by economic experts.

The Government should concentrate his effort to avail power all the country for there is no possible socio-economic development without enough energy.

“Today, energy occupies unprecedented and is remains the key-component as well as cornerstone to enhancing economic assets,” said Faustin Ndikumana, Economic expert.

According to African Development Bank (AfDB) Burundi’s access to electricity currently stands at 6% overall with 49% of the urban and only 1% of the rural population connected to electricity.

It is one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa, even-though the country’s cost of generation of 0.062 USD/kWh.

The the World Bank (WB) estimates the national access to clean cooking solutions at <1%.

It is, added AfDB, considered relatively low as compared to its neighboring countries.

“Furthermore, Burundi has only 39 MW of installed capacity, of which 95% is hydropower-based, and significant renewable energy potential still to be tapped,” report AfDB.

The hydropower capacity is estimated at 1 700MW out of which 300MW is deemed economically viable.

Espoir Iradukunda
Espoir Iradukundahttps://insideburundi.org
Data Investigative Journalist
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