By FLORIAN KAIJAGE (email the author)
Posted Monday, February 28 2011 at 00:00
The energy crisis engulfing Tanzania deepened last week, as it emerged
that East Africaï¿½s second biggest economy is operating on a depleted
electricity reserve that could throw it into darkness in case of an
In coming weeks, authorities plan to shut down major hydro plants, the
main source of power due to falling water levels.
The countryï¿½s power generation system encompasses the use of hydro,
thermal and gas power.
The interconnected grid has an installed capacity of 773MW, of which
71 per cent is hydropower.
The largest hydropower complexes are the Mtera and Kidatu Dams
situated on the Great Ruaha River.
Currently, the area (Ruaha and Ihefu) has been hit by a severe
drought, which has greatly affected the generation of hydropower.
Manufacturers are already staring at major revenue losses that could
in turn pile pressure on prices of key commodities.
Tanzania Meteorological Agency acting director general Agnes Kijazi
told The EastAfrican last week that there were no foreseeable rains in
the coming months, especially in the central and southeastern zone of
the country where the major hydropower generation plants are based.
The ongoing power rationing is expected to cost manufacturers over $5
million (Tsh7.7 billion) and a two per cent slump in output in the
The government will also lose $1.5 million (Tsh2.3 billion) in taxes.
Hydropower generation plants in total produce 561 Megawatts when in
full operation but they are now contributing 180MW only to the
national grid; worse, the water level is dropping rapidly, with
concerns at Mtera Dam in Dodoma where the level is dropping 3cm every
day, and is only 1.38m above the minimum level required to run the
State-run power utility Tanzania Electric Supply Companyï¿½ which is
currently generating just two-thirds of the nationï¿½s total energy
demand ï¿½ imposed power cuts in December after a shortage of natural
gas supply to turbines led to a 40MW deficit on the national grid.
Power rationing was expected to end in January, but drought at
hydropower stations has now pushed up the power deficit to 230MW.
Tanesco acting managing director Felchesmi Mramba told The EastAfrican
in Dar es Salaam last week that the energy firm was striving to ease
the problem by buying fuel to run the Independent Power Tanzania Ltd
(IPTL) diesel generators in Tegeta in Dar es Salaam.
Mr Mramba said the move would add 70MW to the national grid, cutting
the deficit to 160MW.
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