Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why a multibillion worth of hydro-electric power project fails to kick off

LACK of fund has been said to be a major stagnating factor to the development of the long awaited hydro-electric power project which is located at Stiegler’s gorge within Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUDABA) in Coast region. The Stiegler's Power Project as it is known by many is the biggest hydro power generation in the country that is estimated to cost $ 2 billion (Sh. 4.2 trillion) and has been lying idle due to lack of a strategic investor.  A source from Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) said in an exclusive interview on Thursday this week that, the project is geared to end the chronic power crisis in the country as it would generate over 2,100MW of electricity.  This is twice as much as the total installed capacity of 1014 MW that is being currently produced by all sources of power generation connected to the national grid. The power sources with their installed Megawatt capacities in brackets are hydro (561), gas (293) and diesel (160) respectively. Unlike gas which is produced in Mtwara (MW 18) and Somanga (MW7.5) which are not connected to the national grid, the two projects are used within the locality in Mtwara and Lindi regions respectively. A source maintains that, the Stiegler's power project had already been given an international clearance from the World Environment Committee (WEC) of UNESCO for construction work to begin. But in spite of possessing such a global document, it is very unfortunate that, the government is yet to get a strategic investor to run the project due to its expensiveness. Contacted for comments, TANESCO’s Managing Director Felchesmi Mramba said that the Stiegler's power project is in the company’s Power System Master Plan (PSMP) which would be implemented in 2025 prior to another feasibility study which is to be done for the project. The feasibility study for a project in PSMP will determine the technology to be used, evaluated costs, the machines to be involved and other assessments such as the environmental impact assessment. However, he refuted allegations that the project lacks a strategic investor for its development despite of being the oldest in the country and insisted that it will be implemented later on and not now. “Tanesco is currently implementing its hydro-power projects already approved in  its PSMP which are Ruhuji, Rubakali and Kakono”, he said adding that Kakono project is worth $ 250 million whereas the other two costs $ 800 million each one of them. Currently TANESCO largely depends on hydro-power generation from its various four major water sources which are Kidatu (200MW), Kihansi (180 MW), Mtera (MW 80) and Pangani hydro systems that combines a total of 101 MW. The Stigler’s Gorge power plant is to be built in three phases, until the entire potential is realized, implying each stage would involve 700mw of power added to the national grid. The use of hydropower is considered a sustainable power source that is to rescue electricity users by diminishing reliance on gas resources, and raise economic growth as the utility would be over and above the national demand. Generally TANESCO sells power at 16 and 18 USD cents per unit regardless of its mode of generation which are gas, hydro or diesel fuel.

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