The Government of Rwanda and the African Development Bank (AfDB) yesterday signed a financing agreement worth US$ 24.17 million (approximately Rwf19billon) to support the construction of Ruzizi III regional hydropower plant.
Ruzizi III is shared by Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is expected to generate more than 147MW of electricity, which will be shared equally amongst the three participating countries with Rwanda getting atleast 50MW of electricity.
According to the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete, the concessional loan is one of the cheapest (only 0.75 per cent) and is to be paid back in 38 years with a grace period of 5 years.
"The project underscores the importance of ensuring reliable and affordable electric power supply to achieve sustainable economic transformation, Gatete told The New Times.
Ruzizi III is the first regional project designed as a public-private partnership aimed at optimizing the hydropower potential across the region, Minister Gatete added.
The entire Ruzizi project is estimated to cost about $625 million. This includes the Bank's overall contribution to the Multinational Ruzizi III HPP of $190 million covering contributions for Burundi, DRC and Rwanda, and resources to be lent directly to the Project Company on commercial terms.
Additional financing is expected from other Development Partners and the three Governments.
Negatu Makonnen, the AfDB country representative, said the project package include an 8.3 kilometer and 220KV transmission line connecting Kyamanyola power dispatch center and associated power evacuating lines.
"Sustainable regional infrastructure is a necessity for strong regional integration and key to successfully tackling today's most challenging climate change-related problems and security. The Multinational Ruzizi III Hydropower Plant Project is central to AfDB's strategic vision for the development of the African energy sector through the promotion of universal access to low-carbon and inclusive modern energy. This concept has been demonstrated several times in this country," Makonen said.
With this project, AfDB's current active portfolio of Energy projects in Rwanda amounts to more than $180 million.
Germaine Kamayirese, the Minister of State in Charge of Energy, Water and Sanitation said construction of the project is expected to commence in 2018 and will take 4 years.
Rwanda is currently relying on hydro-power, which accounts for 97.37MW of electricity, while thermal energy contributes 51.7MW, and methane gas, 3.6MW.
The overall target is to increase generation capacity to at least 563MW by 2018 from the current 186MW, and investing in solar energy is an important milestone towards realising this objective.