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African Development Bank funds solar-hydro hybrid project in Burundi

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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 unrest 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.

The 9-MW solar-hydro hybrid project is in-line with the Bank’s strategic goal to support inclusive green growth by promoting access to clean, modern, reliable and affordable energy services in rural areas, and to promote energy access and renewable energy technologies as well as being in-line with Burundi’s Government’s objectives to expand renewable energy generation capacity, and promote private sector involvement in the energy sector.

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