Tanzania plans $2 bln hydro plant with Brazil
* Power station to produce 2,100 MW
* Brazil to provide construction expertise
* Project could be up and running by 2015
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DAR ES SALAAM, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Tanzania is planning with Brazil to
build a power plant estimated to cost $2 billion that could transform
east Africa's second largest economy into a net exporter of
electricity, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe and other officials held talks
with their Brazilian counterparts in Sao Paolo in September on the
construction of the proposed 2,100 megawatt (MW) Stiegler's Gorge
"The power plant to be constructed using Brazilian technology would
generate excess power that could be exported to the east African and
southern African power pools," Aloyce Masanja, director general of
Tanzania's state-run Rufiji Basin Development Authority, told Reutes.
Masanja said the plant would be a source of cheap, abundant energy at
a cost of around 2 U..S cents per kilowatt hour. It would help control
flooding in the Rufiji area and create a reservoir with a total
capacity of 34 billion cubic metres to supply the commercial capital
Dar es Salaam and other regions.
Tanzania's chronic energy shortages have resulted in rolling power
outages, undermining economic growth in the country.
The government is considering funding options for the project,
including concessional loans, private investment or state financing,
Brazil will provide the technology to build the plant, and a
government delegation from Brazil is expected in Dar es Salaam next
month for further discussions on the project.
"The project would involve the installation of three giant underground
turbines, each with the capacity of producing 700 megawatts of
electricity," Masanja said in an interview.
Masanja said energy companies from Canada, the United States and
Russia had also expressed interest to invest in a power plant at
Stiegler's Gorge, located some 200 km southwest of Tanzania's
commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
The proposed site of the power plant is located inside The Selous,
Africa's largest game reserve. An environmental impact assessment
showed the project would not affect the wildlife at the area, he said.
A detailed feasibility on the project funded by the Norwegian
government was carried out in the early 1980s, but the project has
been on the back-burner since then due to government bureaucracy and
lack of funds.
"If we start implementing it immediately, the feasibility study can be
updated in 2011 and we can start installing the first turbine in 2012.
By 2015, the project should be fully completed and we can start
enjoying 2,100 megawatts of electricity," said Masanja.
Tanzania has energy demand close to 900 MW capacity, but produces less
than 800 MW.
Only 14 percent of its 40 million people are hooked to the grid, while
demand grows by 10 to 15 percent annually.
The state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) has for the
past 10 days been carrying out emergency power rationing countrywide
following a drought and breakdowns at gas turbines that have eroded
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