Rwanda Pushes On With Lake Kivu Project

The US$18 million project will see four ports built on Lake Kivu.

By Sneha A on
11th September 2023

Ports operators have until 18 September to submit prequalification applications to operate and maintain four ports on Lake Kivu, Rwanda for the next 20 years.

The tender, issued by Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) on 18 July, invites firms to operate and maintain the ports of Rubavu, Rusizi, Nkora and Karongi under a public-private partnership.

The government of Rwanda is keen to improve the country's inland water transport infrastructure to support the growth of tourism and trade, and it sees Lake Kivu, which spans 2,700km along the western edge of Rwanda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as holding great potential.

It is implementing the RWF22 billion (US$18.3 million) Lake Kivu Harbour Transport Project in partnership with TradeMark Africa (TMA), a non-profit aid-for-trade organisation funded by various donors. The project entails the construction of four harbour facilities on the lake, with private sector investors tasked with operating the ports and ferry services. 

In November 2019, the government signed a grant arrangement with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) to co-finance 45% of the construction work for the ports. TMA will provide 50% of the financing, while the Rwandan government will cover the remaining 5%. 

The ports of Rubavu and Rusizi are currently under construction; the two districts are the busiest border crossings between Rwanda and the DRC, together representing about 70% of Rwanda’s total cross-border trade volumes. 

The contract to build the two ports was awarded in December 2019 to a joint venture of Yojaka India and Century Engineering Contractors, a subsidiary of the local EPC Africa Group. 

Construction work was 74% complete as of mid-August, according to a report by the New Times Rwanda.

The RTDA says the Rubavu and Rusizi ports will have an initial capacity of about 1.5 million passengers a year, and this is projected to reach 2.8 million by 2036. The ports’ maximum cargo-handling capacity will be 580,000 tonnes.

The concept design has been concluded for the remaining two ports of Karongi and Nkora, but the tender has yet to be issued to select the contractor.

Nkora port will be a major port like Rubavu and Rusizi and will feature the same specifications. Karongi port will be smaller and is planned to have a capacity of about 300,000 passengers a year, expanding to 400,000 by 2036.

Rwanda currently relies on its road networks to move good around the country. According to the RTDA, transportation costs account for about 40% of goods traded in Rwanda. The government hopes to lower this figure through its investment in inland waterways.

Photo: Port project (Source: Twitter/X @UKinRwanda)

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