The World Bank has made a major contribution to a hydroelectric power project in Central Africa’s Great Lakes, which is set to dramatically improve energy security in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The bank’s board on Tuesday approved $340m for the project as it seeks to ramp up support for electricity in some of the continent’s poorest and most conflict-prone areas.

World Bank

The plant will draw on the power of the Rusumo Falls between Rwanda and Tanzania, one of the headwaters of the Nile, to eventually generate 80 MW of electricity and benefit 62 million people in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The project is part of a $1-billion aid package World Bank President Jim Yong Kim pledged during a trip to the Great Lakes in May.

The funds are contingent on all the countries in the region abiding by a UN-brokered peace deal.

Only 4 per cent of Burundi’s population has access to electricity. For Rwanda that figure is 13 per cent, and for Tanzania, 15 per cent. The World Bank has said tackling poverty and boosting economic growth is impossible without stable electricity supplies.

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