East Africa Power Plant to Be Kept Below Capacity on Environment

Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi agreed that a planned hydropower project to feed electricity to the three countries will be limited to two-thirds of its potential capacity because of environmental concerns.

The facility will generate 60 megawatts, compared with its potential of as much as 90 megawatts, Antoine Sendama, the coordinator of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program, or Nelsap, said in an interview on Feb. 24. Building a larger plant would cause flooding and necessitate the resettlement of more than 35,000 households, he said.

“The countries agreed to maintain the initial estimate to generate 60 megawatts because it has less environmental impact, and would require resettlement of between 600 and 800 households,” Sendama said. The decision “helped secure funds for the project.”

East African countries from Tanzania to Sudan are investing in electricity output as they seek to power industrial growth and export energy to their neighbors. Ethiopia, the source of the main tributary of the Nile, started building the 5,250- megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam hydro plant in April, while 600 miles to the north, Sudan is preparing to construct the $705 million Kajbar dam.

The $300 million Rusumo Falls project involved building a power plant in Rwanda near the Burundian border to the south and the Tanzanian border to the east. Construction is expected to start early next year, Sendama said.

“The World Bank will fund generation, while the African Development Bank the transmission lines,” he said.

Nelsap is an investment pool under the Nile Basin Initiative, an intergovernmental water-resources group comprising nations along the 4,200-mile river.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Malingha Doya in Dar es Salaam at dmalingha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

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