By Emmanuel Ntirenganya & Emmy Ntamanga
Rwanda’s efforts to achieve universal access to electricity by 2024 have received a boost after a deal that will see China’s SynoHydro build the Nyabarongo-II Hydropower Plant.
The 43.5MW plant is expected to be in operation in five years time at a cost of $214 million.
According to Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), once complete, the project will contribute to over 11.5 per cent of the total electricity on the national grid.
Théoneste Higaniro, Head of Power Generation Projects Implementation at EDCL, explained that in addition to this amount, the Government will avail more money for expropriations and project management fees.
EDCL and SynoHydro Ltd signed an amendment to their June 6, 2018 agreement on the design, supply, construction, installation and commissioning of the plant.
In addition to electricity generation, Higaniro said the multipurpose dam will be used for flood control and paving way for irrigation systems and reclaiming land for agricultural activities downstream.
The project is projected to create some 900 direct and indirect job opportunities
The first phase of the project, Nyabarongo I hydropower project, produces 28MW and is only designed for power generation purpose.
With concerns over insufficient water in Nyabarongo river owing to human activities such as mining that lead to huge deposits of sand or soil in the river, energy experts say that the plant’s capacity could be affected.
Higaniro moved to allay these concerns, saying that REG will work with stakeholders in environmental management to minimise the impact of human activity the River.
This, he added, will ensure a steady supply of water and hence minimise the impact to the project.
Currently, Rwanda generates electricity from 40 power plants, mainly hydro projects, according to REG figures.
REG says that efforts to build more plants and upgrade existing ones are underway and will add 400MW by the year 2024.
Some 51 per cent of Rwandan households have access to electricity, with 37 per cent connected to the national grid and 14 per cent to off-grid systems.
Under its seven-year plan, which runs up to 2024, the Government targets 100 per cent access to electricity.