Tanzania to become top power producer in EA region

Tanzania is expected to lead East Africa region in power production and distribution in the next three years, Energy Minister Dr Medard Kalemani has revealed.

This follows the execution of the 2,115-megawatt Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project along Rufiji River in Coast region.

It is financed 100 per cent by the government at a cost of Tsh6.55 trillion and is expected to be completed in the coming two years. The project started in June 2019.

“The government has already paid Tsh1.19 trillion out of the total cost, which is 100 per cent of the amount specified in the contract for the initial period,” said Dr Kalemani recently.

The project is projected to renovate the energy sector and guarantee the country with sufficient energy required to speed up development of other sectors of the economy especially the industrialisation drive.

The power project, which is constructed by a joint venture of Egyptian firms, Arab Contractors and El Sewedy Electric Company, is expected to double power generation in the country,

Presenting the 2020/21 budget in Dodoma, the energy minster pointed out that electricity generation rose to 1,601.84 megawatts as of April 2020, in comparison to 1,308 megawatts in 2015.

He noted that a total of Tsh1.44 trillion has been set aside during 2020/21 financial year and works to be implemented include the main dam and spillways), tunnels and power house as well switch yard.

This power project will become the fourth biggest dam in Africa and 9th in the world. Africa’s largest dam is Ethiopia’s Renaissance, which is under construction, with 6,450 megawatts anticipated its completion in 2022.

A total of 3,897 people have been employed out of whom 3,422 are Tanzania, which is 87.81 per cent and 475 employees are foreigners equivalent to 12.19 per cent of all workers.

About 6,000 Tanzanians will be employed during the project execution.

Without energy there would be no electricity to support the economic, social or political growth of the East African country. But to make it a real enabler of growth, there needs to be enough of it and it must be clean, affordable and reliable.

However, the inadequate supply of electricity for industrial and domestic needs is due to several challenges.

These include the high cost of building new energy infrastructure as well as the inability to get electricity from the points of generation to rural areas, which is where about 80 per cent of Tanzanians live.

The adequate power generation from the Julius Nyerere Dam is expected to save almost 400 hectares of trees chopped down yearly for charcoal and firewood as well as unsustainable agricultural practices.

“Having electricity… schools, factories and other employment areas require electrical power, our country is blessed with vast renewable resources which remain untapped,” said Dr Philip Mpango, Finance and Planning Minister, when tabling the national budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

The project, far more ambitious in scale than rivals elsewhere on the continent, has been closely watched as a case study of investing in hydro in Africa, where demand for energy is soaring as economies grow and populations swell.

Rufiji Valley is the largest in the country, covering 177,000 square kilometres and it starts in Southwest part of the country and traverses all the way to the Indian Ocean.

The upper Rufiji River is fed by various rivers, including Kilombero River, which contributes 65 per cent of water, Ruaha River that pours in 15 per cent of water, Luwegu River with 19 per cent while the remaining one per cent comes from smaller rivers.