(eTN) - A usually impeccable source has confirmed that the Tanzanian government has signed a loan and finance deal with Brazil, aimed to construct a 700 MW facility near Mnyera Falls.
The cost of an estimated US$1 billion will be fully advance financed by Brazil, and it is expected that Brazilian companies will provide all consulting and construction services for the project as well as post-construction advisory services and maintenance support.
The choice of location will provide at least some relief for the Stiegler's Gorge, where, in spite of initial denials when the news were broken here of decades old plans being dusted and revived, a hydro power plant might be put up, after Brazilian consulting company Odebrecht conducted site visits to assess the scope of the project there and the potential electricity output. The greater Rufiji basin, according to studies conducted long ago, could provide up to 4,000 MW of electricity from 8 sites, but Stiegler's Gorge with a potential output of 2,100 MW could generate half of that potential from just one location.
Environmentalists and tourism stakeholders have protested the location, however, and threatened to de-campaign both Tanzania and Brazil, claiming enough alternate sites are available for exploitation, allowing the Selous to be left alone. Stiegler's Gorge is at the heart of the core tourism area and the resulting flooding behind the high dam could result in massive displacement of game and radically alter the entire ecosystem and micro climate of the reserve.
Tanzania's dilapidated electricity grid and power plants are notorious to conk out at the most inopportune moment, largely attributed to an almost complete lack of preventive maintenance and investments in a more modern grid and overland transmission lines, leaving industries and businesses often forced to use expensive generators to keep the doors open but at a huge added cost to the Tanzanian consumers.