Rwanda hydroelectric dam project awarded to Sinohydro

16 Oct 2023
Rwanda hydroelectric dam project awarded to Sinohydro

Construction of Muvumba dam with samll hydropower plant set to begin, co-financed by AfDB and government, to generate 6.94 GWh annually; Rwanda’s shift from diesel to renewable sources facilitated by new Rusumo Hydro Project and Shema Power Lake Kivu IPP

On 6 October, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) announced the contract award to Sinohydro for the construction of the Muvumba multipurpose dam. The dam will be constructed on the Muvumba River, 12km upstream of Nyagatare town in northeastern Rwanda.

The project comprises the construction of a high dam and a small hydropower plant. The dam will have a height of 39m and storage capacity of 54.77 billion liters. A 1MW hydropower plant will be installed in the dam. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the main financier for the project, the power plant will generate 6.94 GWh annually.

The Rwanda Water Resources Board is the project implementor. The project, which is expected to cost a total of €124.2 million, is being financed by the AFDB and the Rwandan government. A €121.5m African Development Bank (ADB) loan will cover 97.2% of the costs while the Rwandan government will contribute the remaining €2.7m as counterpart funding.

The contract start date is the 23rd of October 2023 and Sinohydro is expected to complete the construction of the project in 37 months. Sinohydro Corporation is part of the state-owned Powerchina group.

Rwanda’s transition away from diesel

Over the past year, Rwanda has been inching away from diesel power generation towards cleaner sources. On October 8, the country’s infrastructure minister Jimmy Gasore, stated that construction of two new power projects, the Rusumo Hydro Project and the Shema Power Lake Kivu IPP, has facilitated the decommissioning of the country’s diesel power plants.

The Rusumo Hydroelectric project is part of a larger multipurpose hydro project aimed at improving power and water supply in the Kagera River Basin – shared by Burundi, Rwanda, western Tanzania and Uganda. The total project cost of $468.9m was financed by the World Bank and the AfDB.

The 80MW power plant located in Tanzania cost about $110m and will provide clean energy to Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. The plant’s generation capacity was installed in June. The project also includes the construction of three transmission lines from the plant in Rusumo – a 200km line to Gitega, Burundi; a 50km line to Kigali/Kabarondo; and a 100km to Biharamulo, Tanzania.

In addition to hydropower, Rwanda is also looking to explore its gas resources trapped in Lake Kivu. Last month, Rwanda connected the Shema Power Lake Kivu project to the grid, the second operational plant on the lake.

The Independent Power Plant (IPP) is a 56MW Methane Gas-to-Power plant in the Rubavu district of Rwanda. The plant will supply energy to the grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with Rwanda’s state utility, the Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL). The plant was connected to the grid last September, however full commercial operations are yet to commence.

The completion of these plants will improve supply in Rwanda and retire the country’s diesel plants which have become expensive due to high fuel prices.

Rwanda will host a new, pan-African energy event, the Africa Energy Expo, in February of next year. 

Energy & Utilties reported last year that Rwanda signed a MoU with TotalEnergies to deploy a wide range of clean energy solutions. 

Photo Credit: Shema Power Lake Kivu Ltd.

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