China’s Exim bank agrees $214m loan for Rwandan dam

A $214m concessionary loan has been agreed between the Export-Import Bank of China and the government of Rwanda for the Nyabarongo II dam, to be built by Chinese hydropower specialist Sinohydro.

The dam will be built on the Nyabarongo River in the southwest of the country, about 27km from Kigali. It will be a concrete gravity barrier 48m in height and 228m in length.

The dam will provide 44MW of hydropower from three turbines, and is also intended to support an irrigation scheme, put a stop to downstream flooding, and drain swamps.

Rao Hongwei, the Chinese ambassador to Rwanda, commented: "The project will generate electricity, create employment opportunities, improve irrigation and transform swamps into arable land over an area of 20,000ha. The project is financed by the largest preferential loan ever granted by the Chinese government to the Rwandan government."

The project is expected to create more than 700 construction jobs for Rwandans. It will also use domestic construction materials including sand, stones, wood, and cement, although the electromechanical equipment will be imported.

As well as the dam itself, Sinohydro will build a 2.3km road and bridge and install a 19km long transmission line.

The project is part of the Rwandan government’s ambition, set out in the National Strategy for Transformation, to be among the first countries in Africa to create a national grid with universal coverage, and the first to achieve less than 50% reliance on traditional cooking fuels.

Sinohydro, the world’s largest hydropower construction company, signed an EPC contract with the Rwanda Energy Group in September last year. The construction period is due to last 56 months with the first turbine coming online in 2024.

Image: The signing of the loan contract took place on 7 February (Rwanda Energy Group)

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