Tanzania earmarks $300m for hydropower project

The Government of Tanzania on Thursday set aside 307 million U.S. dollars for the construction of the 2,100 megawatts (MW) Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project in the Selous Game Reserve.

Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project is the world’s renowned wildlife area, a Senior Official said on Thursday.

Medard Kalemani, the East African nation’s Minister for Energy, told the National Assembly in the capital Dodoma that the allocated budget for the mega power project was about 41 per cent of the ministry’s budget.

“The government has so far evaluated the tenders for the project that will help Tanzania in its quest to graduate into an industrial economy by 2025,’’ Kalemani told the House.

He said other planned electricity generation projects included extension of Kinyerezi I and II, Somanga Fungu power project (330MW), Mtwara power project (300MW) and Kakono power project (87MW) among others.

On Tuesday, two Tanzanian Members of Parliament expressed disappointment over a recent move by the government to invite tenders for logging in an area earmarked for Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project.

The MPs, debating 2018/2019 budget estimates for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, appealed to the government to suspend the move pending a strategic environmental impact assessment in the area that is home to wildlife, including elephants.

Zitto Kabwe, MP for Kigoma Urban constituency and Nape Nnauye, MP for Mtama constituency said the logging should not be done until the strategic environmental impact assessment was done.

Earlier, the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency invited tenders for logging in the area to pave way for the mega hydropower project.

Dos Santos Silayo, Chief Executive of the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency, said: “Our intention is to clear the project area before implementation of the project starts’’.

TFS has placed a tender invitation on its website inviting bids for logging of tradition standing trees with 3.5 million cubic meters in Rufiji district in Coast region.

“We opened the tenders for felling the trees so that they can be used for various purposes rather than destroying them,’’ Silayo said via telephone interview.

Clearance of the area will pave the way for the beginning of the mega hydropower generation project at the Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve scheduled to start in July this year.

Tanzania, with a population of approximately 54 million, has just 1,500MW of installed grid capacity.

However, the Stiegler’s Gorge project has been a significant concern for many years now.

This is due to its potential negative impact on the Selous Game Reserve, a world heritage site renowned for its animal populations and variety of wildlife habitats. (Xinhua/NAN)