ENERGY Ministers from Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi have rejected a request to extend the deadline for the completion of the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project.
Despite expressed satisfaction on the implementation of the hydropower project, the Council of Ministers (CoM) meeting held at the Rusumo One Stop Border Post (OSBP) rebuffed the request for deadline extension by the board.
“The Council of Ministers has rejected a proposal requesting for extension of time for completion of the project until September, 2021,” Tanzania’s Energy Minister, Dr Medard Kalemani told reporters at the end of the meeting on Friday.
“We have directed the board to work night and day and ensure that the project is completed by end of February, next year,” revealed Dr Kalemani.
Dr Kalemani said they have directed the board and the project team to work hard and complete the project within the contract period-February, next year.
He explained that work progress currently stood at 59 per cent adding that among steps taken include recruiting a new project manager who started work on July 28, this year.
The meeting was also attended by Rwanda Minister for Infrastructure, Ambassador Claver Gatete and Burundi’s Minister for Energy, Engineer Come Manirakiza.
Once completed, the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP) is envisaged to address the acute shortage of electricity experienced by the three countries, which is negatively affecting their economies.
The project will generate 80 MW of renewable clean energy, relatively low cost power to the national grids of the three countries shared equally, with each country receiving an additional 165 GWH per year.
The additional power will benefit about 1,146,000 people in the three countries, about 520,000 people (5.4 per cent) in Burundi, 159,000 (0.34 per cent) in Tanzania and 467,000 (4per cent) in Rwanda.
The joint development was entered by the three governments through a Tripartite Agreement signed on February 16, 2012.
The project is located at Rusumo Falls, at the common border of Rwanda and Tanzania on River Kagera.
The project is being implemented with support from the World Bank (WB) which donated about US dollars 340m for construction of the 80MW Power Plant while the African Development Bank (AFDB) donated US dollars 128m for the transmission lines.
Shortage of electricity in the three countries and indeed the entire Nile Basin region has resulted into an underdeveloped manufacturing sector, hence limited options for business development necessary for income, reduce dependency on toxic fuel and limited opportunities for modernizing and improving the quality of key infrastructure including health care, water supply and other social services.
The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP) was conceived in 1977 under the auspices of the regional trans-boundary organisation, the Kagera Basin Organisation (KBO) under the old East Africa Community (EAC).
However, implementation of the project was delayed due to several factors including lack of commitment by the partner states, lack of investment finance, civil conflicts as well as absence of a joint institution to coordinate the project.