Two foreign-led consortiums have been awarded contracts to build the East Africa-sited, 80-MW Rusumo hydropower project, which is intended to reduce electricity costs and promote renewable power in Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Rusumo Power Co. Ltd. has selected the consortium of Germany’s Rusumo Falls Andritz Hydro GmbH and India’s Andritz Hydro Pvt. Ltd. as the preferred bidder for the $75-million design, supply, installation and commissioning contract that covers electromechanical equipment for power generation at the $468-million power plant, located on Rusumo Falls, where the Kagera River separates Tanzania and Rwanda.

Rusumo Power, a publicly financed and owned special-purpose vehicle of the three countries that signed the two contracts, also picked a joint venture of China’s CGCOC Group and Jiangxi Water & Hydropower Construction Co. Ltd. for the $47-million contract to design, supply and install hydromechanical equipment at the power plant.

The Rusumo hydro project, which will receive $340 million in World Bank financing, also includes transmission lines to serve each of the three countries' national grids. Financed by the African Development Bank, this $121-million component involves the construction of three high-voltage 220-kV transmission lines that will from the Rusumo Falls power station, about 160 kilometers southeast of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to the load centers of the national grids.

At 164 km, the longest line will pass through Tanzania to connect the dam’s hydropower station and the Gitega substation in Burundi. Further, a 114-km will connect to Shango substation, near Kigali, in Rwanda, and a 94-kim line will connect to Tanzania’s Nyakanazi substation.

Except for the substation, the power plant’s facilities, such as the intake structure, headrace tunnel, surge tank, tunnel trifurcation, surface powerhouse and tailrace channel, are on the right bank of the Kagera River in Tanzania, while the river’s diversion works are on the left side of the river in Rwanda. The project’s dam and power plant will function as a run-of-river scheme, which eliminates the need for an upstream water-storage reservoir, according to a project brief by Rusumo Power.

Rusumo Power has picked a join venture—France-based design firm ARTELIA and a unit of U.S.-based AECOM—as the owner’s engineer for the project, which is set to break ground in the last week of January.

The JV edged out India’s Energy Infratech, U.K.-based SWECO-Mott MacDonald, Germany’s EDF-Lahmeyer, France-based Tractebel-Sofreco and Germany-based Fichtner GMBH Co. KG.

The electricity to be generated from the power plant, which is set to be completed in 36 months, will be shared equally among the three countries, with each getting an estimated 26.6 MW. When the plant is finished, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania hope to increase the number of people with access to electricity by 5.4% (520,000 people), 4% (467,000) and 0.34% (159,000), respectively.