Tanzania has turned to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance two of its major infrastructure projects — the 2,100 MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric plant and the modernisation of Dodoma Airport.
The announcement came barely a week after the Magufuli administration said it could seek the World Bank’s support to finance the construction of its electric standard gauge railway projects.
This is an about-turn from the president’s statement a month ago that Tanzania would fund its multibillion-dollar railway, aircraft modernisation and energy projects with its own resources.
“We already have funds for the standard gauge railway until its completion from Dar to Isaka. We also have the resources internally to fund the construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectricity project,” President John Magufuli had said.
But last weekend, President Magufuli made the financing request to AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina during talks in Tanzania’s administrative capital Dodoma.
The AfDB boss confirmed that the agency was reviewing the request but declined to say how much the project would cost.
“President Magufuli is committed to ensuring that the country industrialises, but you cannot industrialise unless you have access to electricity,” Mr Adesina said.
“The president is very keen to talk to us about the Stiegler’s Gorge project and we are going to be looking at that with him and the government, but we are also very keen to look at other alternative sources of energy,” he added.
Tanzania hopes to start constructing the controversial project that is opposed by environmentalists in July. It expects the project to more than double the country’s electricity production capacity in the next three years.
The government recently launched the $353.7 million Kinyerezi II power plant with an installed capacity of 240MW, on the outskirts of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
Energy Minister Dr Medard Kalemani said the Stiegler’s Gorge project and the remaining phases of the Kinyerezi gas-fired power generation projects, including other energy projects in Mtwara, would produce a total of 3,780MW for Tanzania, bringing the country’s total installed electricity generation capacity to 5,293.3MW.
“In the next three months, we will see the contractor commissioned to start the work at the Stiegler’s Gorge power generation project to see the project implemented in 36 months,” Dr Kalemani said.
The hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 2,100MW, will see the construction of the largest dam in Tanzania along the Rufiji River inside Selous Game Reserve.
Conservationists have been banking on Tanzania not securing funds, since building a dam on a major river that runs through the Unesco-designated Selous Game Reserve, could affect wildlife and their habitats downstream, which would turn away financiers.
Dar es Salaam is expecting to solve its persistent power woes as these new multi-billion dollar energy projects will greatly boost the power generation capabilities, which could even allow it to sell off surplus energy to the neighbouring countries.