The World Bank has approved a US$100 million grant to the Republic of Burundi to finance a new 48MW hydropower project in the country.

The Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project includes the construction of two hydro stations about 5km apart on the Jiji and Mulembwe Rivers. On Jiji, plans are for a 13.5m high concrete dam, producing a small 80,000m3 reservoir. On the Mulembwe River, a 14m high concrete dam will be built to hold 40,000m3 of water.

The project will produce electricity at US$0.10 per kilowatt hour, and replace electricity produced from alternate sources such as diesel generators.

"By developing hydropower responsibly, the World Bank can contribute to peace and stability in the wider Great Lakes region," said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. "The Jiji-Mulembwe hydropower project will deliver clean, low-cost hydropower, and development impact for Burundi, while also protecting the environment."

"The overall cost of the project is estimated at US$270 million"

The grant funding of US$100 million is provided by the International Development Association (IDA). The overall cost of the project is estimated at US$270 million and will be financed by the Government and development partners. The project preparation was marked by extensive consultations with local communities where the feedback was clear and unambiguous: energy is needed for jobs, businesses and industry so that the economy is more competitive.

"Today’s decision marks a major milestone in supporting the easing of Burundi’s energy crisis," said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. "We look forward to effective implementation so that the project can deliver lasting development benefits to the people of Burundi and help achieve the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative."

Only four percent of Burundi’s 10 million people currently have access to electricity, marking some of the lowest access rates anywhere in the world. As Burundi grows, its demand for electricity is surging, and is expected to grow from 46MW in 2012 to 92MW by 2018, reaching a high of 192MW by 2025.

"My government has resolved to increase energy supply for economic growth, jobs and the well-being of all Burundians," said H.E. Come Manirakiza, Minister for Energy and Mines, Burundi. "I would like to thank the World Bank for supporting this energy project that will be developed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."

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