Burundi (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Functioning installed electricity capacity (2008): 52 MW
Hydro-electric: 98.08%
Conventional Thermal: 1.92%

Total primary energy supply (2009):
Biomass: 96%
Petroleum: 1.65%
Electricity:  2.2%

Over 90% of Burundi's energy requirements are met by the burning of wood, charcoal, or peat. Wood consumed mainly for cooking is, and will be for a long time, the main source of energy for rural households,  while also remaining prominent in urban areas. The great majority of the population lives in rural areas and consumes primarily wood for fuel.

Most of the country’s electricity supply is generated through seven hydroelectric plants, which have a combined installed power capacity of 30.6 MW. Two of these hydro power plants deliver 85% of the domestic power supply: Rwegura (18 MW) and Mugere (8 MW). Burundi’s energy supply therefore depends on  95%  hydro power.

Power utility REGIDESO also owns a 5.5 MW thermal power plant in Bujumbura, which has been mostly idle since its acquisition in 1995. Low electricity tariff levels and high diesel prices did not allow REGIDESO to finance fuel payments, and the plant has long been kept as an emergency back-up in case of hydro power production failure. The Bujumbura thermal power plant started regular operations in September 2009.

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Burundi has no indigenous sources of oil, natural gas or coal. It imports about 3,000 barrels of oil a day.  There are no oil refining operations in the country. All refined oil products are imported from Kenya and Tanzania.

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Extend network

The distribution network is made up of a few isolated systems that enable transmission from the power plants of the Northern region, and a main interconnected grid linked with Rwanda and to the East DR Congo. The main grid is 362 km long and is comprised of 110 kV, 70 kV and 35 kV lines.

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.

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Capacity concerns

Burundi’s recurring conflict has largely destroyed the country’s infrastructure assets, including its energy generation, transmission and distribution systems.

Moreover, dependency on hydropower makes the country highly vulnerable to droughts which frequently decrease the electricity production by depleting the limited water storage capacity in the associated hydro power reservoirs. A major energy supply crisis affected Burundi during the 2009 dry-season. From June-September 2009 the country’s electricity supply was reduced by 40%, resulting in severe electricity shortages for all basic services (e.g. water supply, hospitals) and households in Bujumbura. A similar energy supply crises occurred in the 2010 and 2011 dry-season, resulting in large scale and systematic load-shedding, reaching approximately 40-50% of existing demand during peak hours, with severe effects on the country's macro economic recovery.

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Renewable energy

Solar energy
Average solar insolation stands at 4-5 kWh/ m2/day. There is a large potential for PV electricity generation in rural parts of Burundi as most regions are not grid-connected. Solar energy is being investigated and utilised as a means of off-grid electrification for rural areas. Institutions such as the Solar Electric Light Fund have also invested in small solar systems for public buildings, such as health centres.

Wind energy
Data on wind patterns has been recorded by the Institute for Agronomic Sciences of Burundi (ISABU), primarily for agricultural purposes, giving a mean wind speed between 4 and 6 m/s.  More potential sites probably exist in the higher elevations. Pilot private-sector schemes are currently operational.

Biomass energy
Biogas is a form of energy adapted well to the needs for Burundi. The current government plan is to produce energy by means of digesters. Fuel-wood accounts for the vast majority of Burundi's energy consumption. However, potential wood consumption in the country is forecast to require production of 180,000 hectares, which surpasses the current forest coverage of 174,000 hectares, suggesting the need for reduction of consumption and the implementation of re-forestation programs. The total sustainable firewood biomass supply from all sources was estimated at 6,400,000 m³ in 2007.

Geothermal energy
Geothermal resources have been identified in the West Rift Valley region in neighbouring eastern DR Congo. Several geothermal indicators exist in Burundi, but there is little available data to assess commercial viability, the last geothermal study of the region having been conducted in 1968.

Hydro power provides the majority of the country’s electricity power supply. The resource, however, is not fully exploited yet. There is considerable potential for further development, including micro, mini and small hydro power. Burundi’s theoretical hydropower capacity is 1,700 MW, however, roughly 300 MW is seen as economically viable, and only 32 MW has been exploited.

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Energy efficiency

Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world, with the significant upheaval having adversely affected the country's electricity networks. Distribution and technical losses amount to roughly 24%, and rehabilitation is necessary for a large proportion of the country's power generation infrastructure. Projects are currently under-way, financed by the World Bank, to aid Burundi in repairing the damage to the electricity network, as well as further extending it. The extensive use of traditional biomass is unsustainable in the long term.

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Electricity market
The country’s electrical power sector is traditionally state owned. Structural adjustment and privatization for the power sector was initially commenced in 1989, but civil and political conflict has curtailed the process.

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.

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The sector is vertically integrated, and there are no significant Independent Power Producers operating in Burundi, except a few small hydro plants operated by NGOs, and eight micro plants operated directly by the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

The Direction Generale De L’Hydraulique et Del Electrification Rurales (DGHER), the authority responsible for rural electrification and water access, is a client of RIGIDESO, buying electricity from them and distributing it to rural customers.  DGHER used to run its own power plants but now has just some micro plants, which are affected by high rates of unavailability.

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Energy framework

A widening electricity supply deficit has negatively impacted the country's macro economic recovery. The government’s strategy to strengthen and reform the energy sector aims to immediately reduce the severe energy supply deficit and to enable sustainable, long term electricity access. Among the priorities are:

  • Increase in emergency thermal generation capacity;
  • Development of hydro power (and other renewable energy) resources;
  • Rehabilitation of energy transmission and distribution systems; 
  • Strengthening the performance of the energy and water utility REGIDESO by introducing cost reflective tariffs, debt restructuring, performance based management and technical assistance.

Two ongoing IDA-financed infrastructure operations are assisting the Government of Burundi in this regard:

  • The US$50 million Multi-Sectoral Water and Electricity Infrastructure Project (MSWEIP), approved in May 2008, which is providing co-financing for the proposed Global Environment Facility (GEF) energy efficiency project, and
  • The US$15.4 million Emergency Energy Project (EEP), approved in September 2010. Additional US$2 million are being requested from GEF to ensure a more widespread understanding and use of energy efficient technologies and appliances in Burundi.

The Government vision is to reduce the reliance on traditional forms of wood energy use from the present 96% to 70%, increase national capacity from 32 MW to 150 MW and increase the access to power from the present 2% to 20%. They also hope to electrify at least 80% of health centres and  secondary schools in off-grid areas using photovoltaics.

Energy efficiency measures are now being piloted by REGIDESO as part of Burundi’s first consistent and coordinated energy efficiency program since the end of the country’s long term conflict. With support from the World Bank the first energy efficiency awareness raising campaign, combined with a bulk procurement and distribution of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), was initiated in 2011. The proposed Global Environment Facility project will scale up the scope and effectiveness of the country’s energy efficiency program under development.

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Energy debates

Sector reforms are under discussion between the Government and donors. A project aiming at doubling access to electricity has been recently negotiated with the World Bank/IDA and is under implementation, ensuring a strong demand for the future, and requiring more generation capacity, in particular from Ruzizi III which is the least cost supply option for the country.

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Energy studies

  • Energy of the Great Lakes Countries (EGL)

EGL is a regional organization comprising of Burundi, DRC and Rwanda, responsible for the elaboration and implementation of the strategy for energy development in the Great Lakes region. EGL’s main objective is to ensure cooperation between the Member States in the energy sector. It serves as a planning body, research body and also ensures the implementation of regional projects.

This organization has actively participated in the process that was the basis upon which the Ruzizi II community power plant was constructed. Established in 1974 as a non-profit making association, EGL was integrated with CEPGL in 1979. The current juridical form of EGL is that of a Regional Organization. It is headquartered in Bujumbura (Burundi).

  • International Corporation of Electricity of the Great Lakes Countries  (SINELAC)

SINELAC has an industrial and commercial vocation as it is responsible for the operation of Ruzizi II hydropower plant and its dependencies like the regional substation of Mururu II, and the sale of energy production to three national utilities, namely REGIDESO in Burundi, SNEL in DR Congo and RECO in Rwanda.

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Role of government

  • Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM)

In Burundi, MEM is responsible for the development and implementation of energy policies, sectoral planning and programme coordination, as well as for the management of the energy sector.  Under this ministry there is the DGEE (Direction Générale de l’Eau et de l’Energie) which is divided into 2 departments: the Energy department and the Hydraulic Resources Department. The DGEE is responsible for the coordination of sectorial activities, project planning, hydroelectric development studies, preparation of energy balance, control of services to the public, and renewable energy programme implementation through the Burundi Centre for Alternative Energy Studies (CEBEA).

The electricity sub-sector in Burundi is under the supervision of 2 different ministries: MEM and MDCA (Ministère du Développement Communal et de l’Artisanat).

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Government agencies

  • Centre d’Etudes Burundais des Energies Alternatives (CEBEA).

The Burundian Centre for Studies of Alternative Energies (CEBEA) avait été créé en 1982 pour mener des activités de recherwas created in 1982 to conduct applied research appliquée et de diffusion des énergies alternatives, en particuand disseminate knowledge of renewable energies, particularly solar, wind and biomass.

  • The Directorate General of Hydraulics and Rural Energies (DGHER)

The DGHER développe de façon indépendante des projets d'électrification rural develops rural electrification projects.  Since the hydroelectric power plants of DGHER are independent of the main power grid, an agreement between REGIDESO and DGHER becomes necessary when their hydropower plants are connected to the grid for power transmission.

  • The Ministry of Communal Development and Craft Industry is mostly involved in the field of rural energies and water supply;
  • The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism is involved with issues related to oil products;
  • The Ministry of Territorial Planning and Environment has authority over issues related to wood energy and the safeguard of the environment;
  • The National Commission for Water and Energy’s (established by decree n 100/226 of 11/12/1989) main role is to coordinate the various  programmes and policies.
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Energy procedure

  • 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.

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Energy regulator

Burundi has started the process to establish a regulatory authority: the Agence Autonome de Régulation du Secteur de l’Eau et de l’Energie du Burundi. Meanwhile, the Electricity Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for the constitutional and organizational function for the electricity sector.

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Degree of independence

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is directly subsidiary to the government of Burundi.

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Regulatory framework

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for policy and regulation of the energy and water sectors in Burundi. The Presidential decree No. 110/314 of 14th November 2007 defines the principle objectives of the Ministry of Water, Energy and Mines, as well as governance of upstream petroleum activities.

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Regulatory roles

The Ministry is responsible for the elaboration of laws and regulations for the best management of the sector.

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Energy regulation role

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is the sole regulating body for the energy and water sectors in Burundi. No other government department takes an active role in energy policy or regulation.

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Regulatory barriers

Until recently, no consistent and coordinated government energy efficiency programs had been launched since the end of Burundi’s long term conflict. As a result, energy efficiency is facing barriers at all levels in Burundi. Surveys conducted in Burundi have identified the following main barriers:

  • 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
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World Bank (2011): Project Information Document (Pid) Concept Stage - Burundi Energy Efficiency and Lighting Project. Available at [Accessed 26th May 2012]

Organisation de la CEPGL pour l’Energie des Pays des Grands Lacs – EGL (2011): Ruzizi III. Available at: [Accessed 26th May 2012]

World Bank (2011): Burundi - Energy Efficiency Project. Available at [Accessed 26th May 2012]

PACEAA (2009) Review of national frameworks for involvement of agro-industries in rural electrification. Available at [Accessed 26th May 2012]

Energici (2010) Burundi; Energy Profile. Available at: [Accessed 26th May 2012]

African Development Bank (2008) Interconnection of Electricity Grids of Nile Equatorial Lakes Countries. Available at: [Accessed 26th May 2012]

Hakizimana (2009) Country Chapter: Burundi, Produced by GTZ on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. Available at: [Accessed 26th May 2012] Close References