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Rusumo Hydroelectric project to enhance regional cooperation

REGIONAL Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric project (RRFHP) will enhance regional cooperation, support sustainable management of the Kagera River Basin, promote growth and poverty reduction and also manage environmental aspects, according to government authorities.

The project will increase 80MW to the national grids of Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

The generated electricity will be equally shared among the three countries each benefitting about 26.6M W directly connected to the national grid through the transmission lines.

The project is financed by the World Bank and is estimated to cost about USD 340 million on completion while about USD 113 million will be for transmission lines. Improving business and bilateral ties between Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania will increase trade flow, enhance economic and social development.

This would invite Rwanda and Burundi investors to contribute in industrialisation through construction of industries, five star hotels and other key sectors including agriculture, health, education and minerals, a key priority for the government. Industries that produce goods for mass consumption such as clothes, textiles and edibles are highly encouraged.

\President Magufuli’s administration has embraced industrialisation as part of the panacea for unemployment among the youth because industrialisation drive was expected to be one of the significant remedies by creating thousands of job opportunities across the country.

The distance from Bukoba to Kigali is about 400 kilometres as opposed to over 1,500 kilometres from Bukoba to Dar es Salaam and from Bukoba to Bujumbura in Burundi is about 350 kilometres, you can therefore see the advantage of increasing trade relations with EAC neighbouring countries.

Energy Minister, Dr Medard Kalemani who attended the 9th Ministerial evaluation meeting held at Rusumo on February 4, this year is optimistic the project will be completed within contractual period set for February 13, next year.

The meeting was also attended by Burundi Minister for Energy and Minerals, Engineer Come Manirakiza and his Rwandan counterpart, Ambassador Claver Gatete.

We have directed the Board of Directors to ensure value for money, the contractor should work day and night to ensure the project is completed before February 13, 2020.

Expounding, ongoing works include tunnelling, civil works and switch yard, construction of spillway and intake tunnel, construction of outlet tunnel (open) and construction of workers’ camp.

The three countries jointly mandated Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) to coordinate the development of studies and later the implementation of the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric project.

The Rusumo Falls were 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.

Shortage of electricity in the three countries and indeed the entire Nile Basin region resulted in underdeveloped manufacturing sector and limited options for business development.

Over 30 million people in Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) could greatly improve their livelihoods if they utilise the abundant investment opportunities in the basin.

Under the East African Cooperation Treaty, the Lake Victoria basin has been categorised as an economic growth zone. Available investment opportunities include agriculture and livestock, trade and commerce, fishing, mining, wildlife and tourism.

Others are hydropower generation, infrastructure development, human resources development, industries, research and technology. Electricity power is a catapult which Tanzanians should utilise by establishing medium and large industries.

President Magufuli’s administration has embraced industrialisation as part of his ideas to address unemployment among the youth in the country and this should be supported.

Without an efficient industrial base, the country’s economy can hardly develop and create job opportunities. Industries have great potential of creating jobs and attracting capital, skills and knowledge…industrialisation is the way to prosperity… national development cannot be imported, it must come from within.

President Magufuli is determined to ensure that by 2025 all villages in the country are connected to electricity. To-date about 4,395 villages out of 12,268 villages in the country were connected to electricity implying 36 per cent.

Tanzania has current electricity access of about 67 per cent with household connectivity at 32 per cent. Rwanda has electricity access of about 46 per cent and targets to increase to 100 per cent by 2024 by connecting additional 2.4 million households while Burundi, on the other hand, has electricity access rate at about 10 per cent.

Most households in the region still rely on firewood for their cooking and heating needs leading to extensive deforestation and soil erosion.

The additional power will benefit about 1,146,000 people in the three countries- 520,000 in Burundi (5.4 per cent), 159,000 in Tanzania (0.34 per cent) and 467,000 in Rwanda (4 per cent).

The relatively inexpensive electricity will contribute to foreign exchange earnings and improve balance of payments since the power generated will replace imported petroleum products.

More than 500 people will be employed directly by the project. At the regional level the transmission lines will form a backbone system that will link the Great Lakes region allowing power exchange with Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as other Nile Equatorial Lakes countries and later to Southern Africa Power Pool, facilitating power trade among member countries and improving regional power supply reliability.

Under the ongoing Livelihood Restoration Programme which started in February 2017, the communities benefit through sustainable agriculture development, livestock development and off-farm business.

About 6 70,000 USD was earmarked for the programme to benefit 108 households in Tanzania and 127 project affected persons (PAP) in Eastern Province of Rwanda.

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Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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