Prof Muhongo revealed further that access to power in rural areas increased from just two per cent in 2007 to 47.5 per cent today, noting that 97.3 per cent of urban folks have been connected to electricity.
“At 97.3 per cent access in urban areas, Tanzania is among few African countries to record high achievement as per global standards,” Minister Muhongo stated yesterday during the ground-breaking ceremony for the 340 million US dollars Rusumo Falls Hydro-electrical power plant.
The project also entails construction of transmission lines at a cost of 121 million dollars to link the national grids of Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
The three countries will each have a share of 26.6 megawatts from the 80 megawatts that the hydro power plant will generate. Prof Muhongo said Tanzania is determined to generate more power from natural gas and other sources to between 10,000 and 15,000 megawatts.
The minister described the power project and transmission lines, whose completion is scheduled for 2020, as among solutions to power shortages facing the three countries, which are East African Community (EAC) members.
“The transmission system will play significant role in boosting electricity trade in the region and Africa as a whole through interconnection routes from North and South Africa power pools,” he explained.
World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia, Ms Bella Bird, said that the project will add to installed electricity capacity of the respective countries at cheaper costs. “Electricity to be generated from Rusumo will be charged at six US cents, reducing the costs which have been incurred from other sources like fossil fuels.
The 26.6MW to Burundi will improve that country’s installed capacity by almost 50 per cent, the Country Director observed. She was delighted that the regional project will provide greener source of energy for the three countries and broaden social and economic uplift to the people.
Rwanda’s Minister for Infrastructure James Musoni said the initiative was key to development and industrialisation in the region, thanking the development partners for supporting the venture. The Rwandese Minister instructed the contractors undertaking the project to adhere to quality and timely completion of the scheme.
The Regional Coordinator for the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU), Engineer Elicad Nyabeeya, described Rusumo as one of the big projects within the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).
“It is part of the African agenda to boost generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in lighting up the continent,” he observed. The World Bank has financed Rusumo power plant while the African Development Bank (AfDB) finances the transmission systems to the three countries.
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