Energy Sector Profile in Burundi

The energy sector is one of the key sectors in Burundi’s economy, access to electricity concerns only 1.8% of the population (25,000 customers) and 95% of the electricity is consumed in the capital Bujumbura. Gitega and Bujumbura are the only two cities in Burundi that have a municipal electricity service. The national average electricity consumption per capita is only 20 kWh per year.

Burundi has abundant unexploited energy sources including renewable and non-renewable energy sources .
The renewable sources include the following:

  • Biomass
  • Hydro power
  • Wind
  • Solar
  • Peat
  • baggase

 The non –renewal resources which the country has are as follows:

  • Fossil fuels
  • charcoal
  • Fuel wood

 Characteristics of the sector

  • Burundi`s energy consumption relies to a great extent on biomass.
  • Households are the main consumers of energy in the country, accounting for 94% of total consumption. Their needs are almost exclusively met by traditional biomass (99%). Electricity (0.3%), and oil products (0.4%) play an insignificant role.
  • If industry and transport is included, 94% of all energy consumption relies on biomass, which is composed by around 70% of fuel wood, 18% of agricultural residues, 6% of charcoal, and 1% of bagasse.
  • A key feature of the power sector in Burundi is the very low level of electrification only 2% of the 1.6 million households in the country are currently electrified.
  • The average consumption of electricity in Burundi is 23 kWh/cap/year which is one of the lowest in the world.

Current situation in the energy sector

Current status of energy sector in Burundi
The energy status and the electricity consumption balance of Burundi clearly reflect the socio-economic development of the country and in addition, technical problems appear in its electricity grid and increase day by day while the demand is clearly improving.

The country needs to implement large-scale projects, such as local and regional projects to develop its energy potential.

Mines projects, like MUSONGATI and MUREMERA nickel projects, make that energy demand will require more than 50 MW.

With the opening of more of industries after the political crisis, Burundi therefore requires more than 80 MW on the existing power capacity.

There are 156 potential hydropower sites and 29 existing sites about to be equipped, fewer than 30 sites have been explored

Current Energy projects implemented

Multi-Sectoral Water and Electricity Infrastructure Project (2008-2013)
Funded by The World Bank at a cost of $50 million, the project supports the Government of Burundi’s efforts to (a) increase access to water supply services in peri-urban areas of Bujumbura; and (b) increase the reliability and quality of electricity services.

Interconnection of Electric Grids of Nile Equatorial Lakes Countries
The project consists of the construction and upgrading of 769 km of 220 kV and 110 kV power lines and 17 transformer stations to interconnect the electric grids of the Nile Basin Initiative Member countries (NBI), namely Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Other Projects
Kabu 16 (20 MW) and Mpanda (10.4 MW) and two regional projects: Rusizi III (145 MW to be divided with Rwanda and the DRC) and Rusumo Falls (61 MW to be divided with Rwanda and Tanzania) are two further hydro-electric projects.
Burundi also plans another national project: Jiji/Mulembwe/Siguvyaye in the south of Burundi rated for 100 MW or more, and on Ruvubu (Mumwendo site: 80 MW). It will have a cost of 750 million dollars and its feasibility has not yet been established.

Electricity market
The country’s electrical power sector is traditionally state owned, Electricity generation and supply in Burundi is managed and administered by Régie de Production et Distribution d’Eau et d’Electricité (REGIDESO), which operates and controls all of Burundi’s thermal power stations. They have a combined installed capacity of 30.6 MW and a small amount of hydro capacity, in the form of small units in rural areas. REGIDESO is also responsible for power distribution and water supply in urban areas, the majority of which are located in the country’s capital Bujumbura and the surrounding areas. Electricity is transmitted and distributed by REGIDESO, whilst the Societe Internationale des Pays des Grand Lacs (SINELAC), a jointly owned utility with Burundi, Rwanda and Congo, is responsible for the development of indigenous and joint power ventures generating and selling power to REGIDESO.

Liquid fuels market
The petroleum sector falls under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which supervises all imports

Market for micro hydro power
The market segments include electrifying rural households, schools, businesses, health centres, hotels, real estate housing projects, industries and non-commercial establishments such as churches, mosques, and community centres.

Market for charcoal briquettes
The key market segments for briquettes rural and urban households, schools and institutions like prisons and hospitals.

 The challenges faced by the energy sector include the following:

  • Low awareness for energy efficient products and appliances
  • Unregulated markets for energy efficiency products and appliances
  • Lack of quality technical and service standards for energy efficient equipment
  • Low capacity and management experience
  • Lack of access to investment finance
  • Dilapidated state of infrastructure
  • Lack of investment to increase production capacity
  • Low consumption of commercial energy  as people still rely on wood fuel
  • The high costs of transports of imported oil products for the production of power

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