AfDB commits to Burundi’s Jiji, Mulembwe hydropower projects

The African Development Bank Group’s board of directors has approved a US$22 million grant to help fund development of the 31.5-MW Jiji and 16.5-MW Mulembwe hydroelectric projects.

The investment is the largest made in the country’s infrastructure since the 1980s, according to the AfDB, and comes from the bank’s Fragile States Facility.

Burundi’s water and electric utility, Regie de Production et de Distribution d’Eau et d’Electricite (REGIDESO), invited expressions of interest from consultants to perform a social and environmental assessment for the projects earlier this month.

The Jiji and Mulembwe hydropower plants will more than double Burundi’s current hydroelectric capacity, increasing the national electrification rate of 5% to 8% by 2019.

The $270 million project is also being supported by a consortium of private donors, including the World Bank, European Investment Bank and European Union.

“AfDB was one of the first donors to get involved in the energy sector after the conflict in Burundi,” said Alex Rugamba, director of the bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department. “The production of additional electricity will help diversify the economy by stimulating the private sector and promoting job creation.”

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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