The China Exim Bank is to extend a concessional loan worth US$ 214 million to the Government of Rwanda to finance the 43.5 MW Nyabarongo II hydropower project and associated transmission infrastructure.
The project, between the districts of Gakenke and Kamonyi in southwestern Rwanda, is to be carried out by Chinese state engineering group Sinohydro under an Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract signed in April 2019 with the Rwanda Energy Group (REG), the state power utility (see H&D Issue 3, 2019). The project will feature a powerhouse with three 14.5 MW units, a 48 m-high, 228 m-long concrete gravity dam, which will impound a reservoir with a maximum storage capacity of 846.3 x 106 m3, a switchyard, 19 km of 110 kV lines from the powerplant to the Rulindo sub-station, and a bridge and permanent road to access the site. Output from the plant will be sold to REG at a price of US$ 0.075/kWh. In addition to power generation, the multipurpose project, located in the upper reaches of the river Nyabarongo, about 27 km from the capital Kigali, is designed to provide flood control, and water for both irrigation and human consumption. The dam will regulate water flow to allow downstream irrigation projects and reclaim about 20 000 ha for agricultural use. The storage capacity of the reservoir will allow the powerplant to run throughout the year with minimum guaranteed generation of at least 50 per cent in the dry season, and a design availability of 63.7 per cent, according to REG. The project, which is projected to take 56 months, with the first unit of the plant expected to be commissioned by the end of the second quarter of 2024, will reduce fossil fuel power generation and contribute to the stability of the grid, as well as create jobs for the local population, Rwanda’s minister of Finance and Economic planning, Dr Uziel Ndagijimana said, after signing the agreement with Rao Hongwei, PRC’s Ambassador to Rwanda.
The Chinese-financed plant is part of Kigali’s efforts, enshrined in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), to achieve full electrification for the country by 2024 with national installed capacity expected to more than double to 514 MW by then from 224.6 MW at present, of which 15 per cent currently fires on diesel. New capacity that is scheduled to be added by 2024 includes 116 MW of new hydropower from Rwanda’s share in the tri-national 147 MW Ruzizi III and 80 MW Rusumo Falls projects, and 40 MW of mini- and micro-hydro projects, as well as the 56 MW Kivu56 methane gas-fired project and 80 MW Hakan Quantum peat-to-power projects.