Power expected from Rusumo plant to delay even further

Sunday April 16 2023
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Rusumo power plant under construction. The plant will serve Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Picture:File

By Ange Iliza

Potential beneficiaries of the multimillion-dollar Rusumo Hydroelectric Power plant will have to wait longer as the completion of the project has been delayed again.

The 80-megawatt Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project was initially scheduled to be completed in 2021 but was delayed following procurement flaws that increased its cost by over 20 percent.

In 2021, the completion date was extended to March 2023. Burundi was scheduled to be the first to receive electricity in December and Rwanda and Tanzania by March this year, according to top officials' announcement upon visiting the construction site in August last year.

Officials from the Nile Basin Initiative, upon inspecting ongoing works for constructing the regional Rusumo hydro project in February, concluded that the electricity will reach the grid in June, instead of the previously announced March.

Among the reasons for the delay was the limitation of oversized cargo transport from overseas and road transport that limited cargo to not more than 40 to 50 tonnes, which affected the last construction phases.

In addition, Jacob Munyyuona, an engineer at the Nile Basin Initiative, which is responsible for the power plant construction, said there have been issues with insufficient power lines to transmit electricity to respective countries.


Mr Munyyuona said Burundi has not moved an inch to construct high voltage power lines to supply the electricity, undermining the final phases of distributing electricity. However, Minister for Infrastructure, Ernest Nsabimana told Rwanda Today that Rwanda is ready to receive the electricity and has the voltage power lines ready.

“Our infrastructure is ready, there is no issue of power lines on our side, Rwanda is just waiting for the electricity to be sent through,” Mr Nsabimana said.

He added that the ministerial team overseeing the project will convene again in May to follow up on the delay and thrash out issues raised by engineers. Situated at Kirehe in Rwanda and Ngara in Tanzania, the facility will generate up to 80 megawatts.

The three countries see the dam as an additional power source for universal access to electricity. Rwanda plans to give full access to electricity to its 13 million population from the current 61 percent by 2024.

Tanzania plans to double its installed power generation capacity from the current 1,600 megawatts to 3,600 megawatts by 2025.