Tanzania is starting the process of building the fourth largest hydro dam in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli is to lay the foundation stone for the construction of Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power project.
The project according to government officials will cost $3 billion. The 2,115 megawatts hydroelectric dam when completed will produce 5,920GWh of power annually.
The project was an original idea of Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere. It was abandoned due to financial and environmental concerns but the project is back on. Current president, Magufuli is however committed to industrializing his country with such projects.
The project is part of Tanzania’s power master plan, to interconnect the grids of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The government’s plan is to execute such industrial projects to alleviate constant power outages hampering the manufacturing sector.
But there are concerns from environmentalists who say the dam is situated in middle of Selous Game Reserve. The reserve is the main elephant sanctuary in Tanzania and a World Heritage Site.
There are fears the dam will destroy wildlife habitat. Tanzania is part of some East African countries trying to ensure that they have enough power generation capacities. Kenya is now home to Africa’s biggest wind power plant. The plant in the Marsabit County is to provide nearly a fifth of the country’s energy needs.
The project is to support the Kenyan government’s commitment to increase electricity generation to 5,000W.