The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved US$340 million in financing for the Rusumo Falls hydropower plant.
The 80 MW project will be located along the Kagera River and is intended to "reduce electricity costs, promote renewable power, spur job-led economic development and pave the way for more dynamic regional cooperation, peace and stability among the countries of the Nile Equatorial Lakes (NEL) sub-region in east Africa," the World Bank said.
The run-of-river project will provide power for Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania -- each of which will receive a third of the World Bank's funding via of the International Development Association.
"The Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project takes a regional approach to tackling sub-Saharan Africa's power crisis, providing low-cost, clean, renewable energy," said Jamal Saghir, Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. "The new power plant signals the bank's commitment to keeping the lights on across the African continent, necessary for achieving growth, ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the region."
Statistics provided by the World Bank show only 4% of Burundi's population has access to electricity, while Rwanda and Tanzania are listed at 13% and 15%, respectively.
"This landmark project will have a transformational impact," said Director of Strategy, Operations and Regional Integration Colin Bruce. "By connecting grids, people and environmentally sensitive solutions, the project will help to catalyze growth and to encourage peace and stability in the sub-region."
HydroWorld.com reported in May 2012 that Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva said work on what was then rated as a 90 MW project would begin soon. NEL also solicited applications to serve as a project manager for the plant's development in 2012.
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