Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$100 million grant to the Republic of Burundi to finance the Jiji and Mulembwe hydropower project.
Only four percent of Burundi's 10 million people currently have access to electricity, marking some of the lowest access rates anywhere in the world.
As Burundi grows, its demand for electricity is surging, and is expected to grow from 46 megawatts (MW) in 2012 to 92 MW by 2018, reaching a high of 192 MW by 2025.
"My government has resolved to increase energy supply for economic growth, jobs and the well-being of all Burundians," said H.E. Come Manirakiza, Minister for Energy and Mines, Burundi. "I would like to thank the World Bank for supporting this energy project that will be developed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."
The Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project will finance construction of two hydro stations of combined 48 MW of capacity that will produce badly-needed electricity.
The two stations - one on the Jiji River and the other on the Mulembwe River - will be located about five kilometers apart. The Jiji is a tributary of the Mulembwe River which flows into Lake Tanganyika.
On Jiji, plans are for a 13.5-meter high concrete dam to be built, producing a small 80,000-cubic meter reservoir. On the Mulembwe River, a 14-meter high concrete dam will be built to hold 40,000 cubic meters of water.
The Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project will produce electricity at US$0.10 per kilowatt hour, and replace electricity produced from alternate sources such as diesel generators that are polluting, more costly (about US$0.40 per kWh) and depend on imported fossil fuels trucked overland from distant ports in Kenya and Tanzania.
"By developing hydropower responsibly, the World Bank can contribute to peace and stability in the wider Great Lakes region," said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. "The Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project will deliver clean, low-cost hydropower, and development impact for Burundi, while also protecting the environment."
The grant funding of US$100 million is provided by the International Development Association (IDA*). The overall cost of the project is estimated at US$270 million and will be financed by the Government and development partners.
The project preparation was marked by extensive consultations with local communities where the feedback was clear and unambiguous: energy is needed for jobs, businesses and industry so that the economy is more competitive.
"Today's decision marks a major milestone in supporting the easing of Burundi's energy crisis," said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. "We look forward to effective implementation so that the project can deliver lasting development benefits to the people of Burundi and help achieve the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative."
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives.
IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries.
Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.