27 June 2014, Tunis – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group, AfDB, approved on 23 June 2014 in Tunis a US$22 million grant from its Fragile States Facility for the Jiji and Mulembwe Hydroelectric Plant Project in Burundi.
Representing the largest investment in Burundi in the post-war period, the project is also one of the largest investments made in the country’s energy infrastructure since the 1980s. Specifically, the project involves the construction of two hydroelectric power stations and related infrastructure, such as transmission lines and substations required for injecting produced electricity into the national grid.
The Jiji and Mulembwe project has three components: first, building the hydroelectric power stations and its associated infrastructure; second, providing technical assistance; and third, supporting the institutional development of the electricity sector. The project, which has total cost of approximately US$270 million, is funded by a consortium of donors active in the energy sector in Burundi, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Union. The AfDB grant will co-finance the project’s first component.
Under this component the Bank will co-finance the construction of the Jiji and Mulembwe hydroelectric plants, which will have a total production capacity of 48 MW. These new power plants will allow Burundi to double its installed production capacity (currently at 39 MW). This will increase the national electrification rate of 5% today to 8% in 2019, helping to fill the energy gap.
Following the Board of Directors decision, Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department said: “AfDB was one of the first donors to get involved in the energy sector after the conflict in Burundi.” He continued: “The production of additional electricity will help diversify the economy by stimulating the private sector and promoting job creation.”
This Jiji and Mulembwe project complements US$678,000 in technical assistance granted by the AfDB Fragile States Facility to the government of Burundi for the development of a master plan for the production, transport and distribution of electrical energy.
The project will reduce the vulnerability of Burundi’s economy and its dependence on foreign aid. It will also facilitate the country’s transition to green and inclusive growth as outlined in the AfDB’s long-term strategy. As it improves access to lower cost energy (less than US$0.10/kWh as compared to US$0.46/kWh for thermal energy), the Jiji and Mulembwe project will strengthen the resilience of poor communities, both directly and indirectly. More specifically, the project will impact 120,000 homes and help avoid at least 119,000 tons per year of CO2 emissions, as compared to alternative thermal electricity production.