Despite poor relations for last 4years, the governments of Rwanda and Burundi have put aside their differences to bring much needed power to their people.
The two this Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) together with DR Congo to construct the Rusizi III dam on the common border.
The deal was signed in Kinshasa between Rwanda’s infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete, Congo’s acting energy and hydrocarbons minister Pierre Kangudia as well as Burundi’s energy, mines and hydrocarbons minister Côme Manirakiza.
There are already two other small hydropower dams on the Rusizi river on the common border between Rwanda and Congo: Rusizi I 28.9MW and Rusizi II 43.8MW.
The Rusizi III hydropower dam has been on paper since 1992, before the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and during the rule of Congo’s former strongman Mobutu Ssese Sseko.
Putting pen to paper, the three Ministers said Monday that the countries have opted to look to the future despite their political differences. Congo’s acting minister Kangudia even went further, welcoming what he described as a “compromise” reached by the Presidents of the three countries.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and DR Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi have met three times in a few months. Tshisekedi met Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza in Bujumbura early this month.
President Kagame last met Nkurunziza more than 5years ago before a failed coup which Burundi blames on Rwanda, and has essentially closed its border. So the 3 leaders have not met together.
The Rusizi III dam will have installed capacity of 144MW to be shared between the three nations. However, it is said to able to produce up to 200MW.
The distribution station will be located in Bukavu, inside DR Congo – from where the power will be connected to the grids of Rwanda and Burundi through the network to be established as part of the project.
At a cost of $700m, 50% of the funding will come from donors. According to the ministers, 20% of the necessary funding was already secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB) back in 2015.
Rusizi river is the what connects L. Kivu and L. Tanganyika. Construction of the hydro dam begins in 2021, to be completed in 2026.
Construction works will be done by the Industrial Promotion Services firm owned by the Kenya-based Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), and Norway’s SN Power.