World Bank Approves $340 Million for Africa Hydro-Power Project

The World Bank said its board approved $340 million of financing for a hydroelectric project intended to provide electricity to 62 million people in Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project has a total cost of $468.6 million and will eventually have generation capacity of 80 megawatts, according to a statement released today by the Washington-based bank. Each country is getting $113.3 million from the bank’s International Development Association unit, which offers zero-interest loans and grants to the poorest countries, it said.

The so-called run-of-the-river project aims to spur economic development and hiring, bolster regional cooperation and minimize the environmental impact, according to the statement. Four percent of Burundi’s population has access to electricity. The rate is 13 percent in Rwanda and 15 percent in Tanzania, according to the lender.

The African Great Lakes region where the project is located has high levels of poverty and low levels of key services, the bank said. Burundi ranked 161st out of 190 in terms of gross domestic product in 2012, according to World Bank data. Rwanda was 141st and Tanzania 93rd.

In May, the World Bank pledged $1 billion in funding for the region to help increase trade, expand road networks and boost electricity generation, with projects including the Rusomo Falls project and $100 million to boost agriculture. This is the first operation in the initiative, according to today’s statement.

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