AfDB grants $990,000 to support solar-hydro hybrid project in Burundi


Bujumbura, the former capital and largest city in Burundi. Source: Dave Proffer, Flickr

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, a multi-donor fund managed by the African Development Bank, has granted just shy of US$1 million for the development of a 9MW solar-hydro hybrid project in Burundi.

The US$990,000 project is being developed by national hydroelectric developer Songa Energy and private investment firm Virunga Power. It will supply power to state-owned electric utility Redigeso.

It comprises two plants, each featuring a solar and hydroelectricity component, as well as establishing a local distribution network and an interconnection to the national grid.

The funding will support technical feasibility, environmental and social impact studies and financial advisory.

The AfDB expects the project duo to supply electricity to more than 20,000 households and benefit women and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.

Electricity infrastructure in the landlocked sub-Saharan nation is in poor state following 13 years of civil war between 1993 and 2005 and political and civil uprest in 2015. Only 9.3% of the 10.9 billion people who live in Burundi have access to electricity, a figure that drops to 1.7% in rural areas, according to World Bank statistics from 2017.

About 60% of the Burundian grid requires rehabilitation or upgrading to meet interconnection standards of the East African Power Pool, according to a joint World Bank and Energy Sector Management Assistant Program report published in May 2019.

Hydroelectric power generates more than 90% of its electricity demand.

IRENA figures note that the country had 5MW of PV capacity installed at the close of 2018.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa is administered by the AfDB and funded by the UK, Denmark, the US and Italy.

In June, Climate Investor One, a scheme managed by Dutch and South African organisations, closed US$850 million in financing earmarked for PV development in 11 emerging markets, including Burundi.

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