19 July 2012

East Africa: EAC to Set Up Renewable Energy Centre

The Deputy Secretary General of East African Community in charge of Productive and Social Sector, Jessica Eriyo, has said that plans are underway to establish a regional renewable energy efficiency and conservation centre.

According to Eriyo, the centre would promote best practices in developing renewable energy technologies and act as a centre of excellence for energy conservation and energy efficiency in the region. She revealed this while addressing the ongoing energy conference in Arusha, Tanzania.

She reiterated that the region had enormous potential in renewable energy with biomass comprising 90 per cent of energy consumed yet it contributes to a high rate of de-forestation that alongside land degradation accounts for nearly 20 per cent of global warming and climate change.

"But the biomass available in the region can be harnessed and utilised in a modern, clean and sustainable manner," she noted She re-affirmed that the EAC region was endowed with both renewable and non-renewable energy resources though many of these remain under-developed, untapped and therefore under-utilised.

Meanwhile, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see Rusizi I and II hydro power projects rehabilitated to operate at full capacity.

The power plants have a capacity of 72 megawatts.

If the plan is realised, Rusizi II which is said to be in a poor state, will produce 44 megawatts from the current 36 megawatts while Rusizi I would produce 28 MW from current 20MW.

"It is critical for the three countries to accept that we are not good managers and we should get someone to manage the project," the Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, said after the signing ceremony in Kigali.

He noted that the rehabilitation and privatisation of the project would pave way for the establishment of Rusizi III which will generate 147MW of power to be shared equally among each of the three countries. The overall cost of Rusizi III hydropower scheme is estimated to be Euros 500 million with a total of Euros 350 million having already been disbursed by different development partners, including European Investment Bank, African Development Bank and French Development Agency.

The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has provided Euros 2.8 million of grant funding for studies to examine the economic viability, environmental and social impact, water management and electricity links and institutional strengthening of Rusizi III.

Rusizi II power plant is located in Bukavu in the DRC and supplies electricity to the three regional countries.

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