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Tanzania: Ensure power affordability – JPM

GIVEN increasing electricity generation from cheaper sources such as gas and the envisaged 2,100MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project, President John Magufuli has tasked responsible State institutions to consider lowering tariffs to enable ordinary people to afford the energy.

Dr Magufuli blamed costly diesel-fired plants operated by independent power producers (IPPs) and emergency power producers (EPPs) for higher electricity charges, which can hardly be afforded by ordinary people.

The country’s installed capacity from all sources stands at 1,513MW against the demand of about 1,400MW, President Magufuli explained yesterday during commissioning of Kinyerezi II gas-fired plant with the capacity of 240MW.At the cost of 344 million US dollars (about 774bn/-), the project, whose construction started in 2016, has started pumping into the national grid 167MW while the remaining megawatts will be added in phases to reach its full capacity.

Japanese lenders provided loans amounting to 292.4 million US dollars for the project, while the government of Tanzania dished out the remaining 51.6 million US dollars. “Efforts are still needed to produce at least 5,000MW by the year 2020 to enable Tanzania achieve the industrialised economy. “With the envisaged increment in generation, it is high time Tanesco (Tanzania Electric Supply Company) and the Ministry of Energy started making consideration to reduce tariffs to enable more people to access electricity,” Dr Magufuli stressed.

Citing statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of 2015/2016, Dr Magufuli expressed dissatisfaction that only 36.6 per cent of Tanzanians had access to electricity by then. “The statistics could have risen to about 40 per cent at present, but many people are still using firewood and charcoal as source of energy which has negative impact on environment and health.

I am told that 400,000 hectares of forests are cut down each year for charcoal,” he pointed. And, through rural electrification projects, President Magufuli was impressed that the government had been able to connect electricity to 4,395 out of 12,268 villages, expressing optimism that the remainder will be covered in ongoing and future projects.

“The government welcomes investors to produce electricity from all sources including gas, hydro-plants and even nuclear, provided such investments are not exploitative as it was the case with the previous projects which were tagged with manipulative capacity charges,” he warned.

The First Citizen assured the gathering which turned out to witness the commissioning of the plant that the government had at hand financial resources required to implement the ambitious Stiegler’s’ Gorge hydro-power plant along Rufiji River. “Once the process to procure a contractor for the project is completed, advance payments will be made immediately.

The ministry should work to ensure construction work starts by July, this year,” he stressed. On the other hand, Dr Magufuli tasked responsible officials to ensure that the extension of Kinyerezi I at the cost of 188 million US dollars (over 400bn/-) with envisaged capacity of 185MW is completed on schedule. Kinyerezi I is currently producing 150MW and the ongoing expansion is set to increase its capacity to 335MW.

The government of Tanzania is funding the project using local sources. The Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, explained earlier that execution of all gas plants from Kinyerezi I to IV will generate a total of 1,692MW. In addition, there were two gas plants at Somanga Fungu 320MW and Mtwara (300MW)

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