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Burundi to attain 270MW energy production by 2020

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Bujumbura, Burundi- The Minister for Energy and Mines, Mr. Moise Bucumi,  has said the country will need at least 270 MW to satisfy local power needs and mitigate the overwhelming dependence on biomass fuel.
In a recent press briefing, the minister revealed that government also intends to extend the grid to mining sites, poised to open almost everywhere in Burundi.
Various companies have obtained licenses or are already at work to explore the abundant mineral deposits of gold, nickel, coltan, Columbite-tantalite, cassiterite and phosphate among many minerals in the country.  
Flemish Investment Burundi received an extra permit to extend its research activities based in the northern province of Muyinga.
Following the discovery of oil in the rift valley area of Uganda, hopes have been mounting that oil reserves could be discovered soon especially under the waters of Lake Tanganyika, which is shared by the four riparian States, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the DRC.
The cabinet of Burundi recently approved draft laws to allow several companies to start exploration activities. They include a local company, AMMG that seeks Colombo-tantalite and British Islands' Rainbow that is looking for rare minerals.
Energy estimates in the Ministry of Energy and Mines show a potential electric power capacity of 1,700 MW with 300 MW economically exploitable in Burundi. The current production is still as low as 45 MW, which cannot satisfy demand for domestic, industrial and private and public establishments. Today's actual demand for energy in Burundi is 120 MW.
According to government sources, power production has been placed among the top priorities for the 2010-to-2015 mandate. Government envisions surpassing Burundi's ranking as East Africa's lowest electricity consumption of 2.5% to attain at least 20% by 2020.
A preliminary pushup effort was directed into upgrading or rehabilitating important dams while constructing new schemes. The government plans to establish average dams for upcountry townships and villages.
The country's grid includes also a share from SINELAC, the Great Lakes Economic Community (CEPGL)'s common power production company. SINELAC produces 43 MW equitably sold to national power companies such as: REGIDESO in Burundi, RWASCO (former ELECTROGAZ) in Rwanda and SNEL in the DRC.
Studies are underway in the framework of East African Community joint power strategy to exploit a 61.5 MW potential at Rusumo Falls on Kagera River, on the Rwanda-Tanzania border.
"The government is also contemplating with special interest the use of renewable sources as solar energy, an alternative that is expected to provide the essential part of electricity to be distributed freely to households willing to live in villages," said Bucumi.
In a new move to improve people's habitats and their livelihoods, while also liberating crop land roughly segmented with dispersed habitats, the government has set in its five-year programme  to mobilize the population to live into modern villages.
Each household will be required to elevate walls following standardized measures.
The government will provide tiles or iron sheets and supply solar power panels depending on the type of bricks used.
Additionally, the use of low energy consumption lamps (LECL) and solar-powered street lights is expected to save more than 5 MW.  
Nevertheless, the needs are so enormous that it is almost impossible for the government alone to meet the growing demand in energy. A substantial power generation is still inevitably needed to make expected profits. This signifies that the energy sector is an excellent investment opening.  
According to information available at the new Burundi Investment Authority, the government of Burundi is encouraging investors to put money in the sector that has been an outright monopoly of the public and private companies are increasingly taking interest in the business.
 Several companies have already submitted applications to construct and assure the management of hydroelectric dams on the numerous rivers crossing the 27,834 sq kilometers State of Burundi. A Swedish company "African Power and Water" application is being considered in the Ministry of Energy and Mining.
The expectation is high and the future certainly more promising.
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written by Steve, August 18, 2011
A very good outlook on behalf of the minister? One question, where are the investment guarantees coming from, considering, the deficit of exports compared to imports.
Burundi needs to tidy up the problems of lost donor funds, before they can dream of large energy projects.

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