Construction of Rufiji power plant kicks off in Tanzania

The massive project is part of Tanzania's power master plan, which envisions Stiegler’s Gorge helping interconnect the grids of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

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An aerial view shows the Rufiji river flowing through the ranges during the launch of the construction of the Rufiji Hydro Power project ( REUTERS )

The Construction of Rufiji Power Plant in Tanzania kicked off last Friday when President John Magufuli laid the foundation stone at the launch of the 2,115MW hydropower plant over Rufiji River.

The construction of the dam located in the  heart of the  Selous Game Reserve –  a major game reserve in the country, has been marred by controversy sparking protests by wildlife and nature conservationists concerned about the “desecration” of the Unesco Heritage Site. The reserve is home to a large variety of wildlife animal species.

The Project at Stiegler’s Gorge will cost US$1.38 billion and is set to be completed in 2022, however, Tanzania Shadow minister for energy John Mnyika, said that the construction of the power plant could take 9 to 12 years, contravening the government’s position that it is a three-year project.

“The project is costly and will have an adverse economic impact on the country. The costs are likely to jump from US$1.38 billion to US$9.8 billion as a result of cost overruns,” he said.

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Cairo-based JV Arab Contractors Company and the El Sewedy Electric, an Egyptian engineering firm, won the tender to implement the project.

In 2018, the Tanzanian government and the Contractors signed a contract worth US$ 2.8 billion fully funded by the Tanzanian government for the project, where the US$309 million was a 15 per cent advance payment of the total cost of the project.

The massive project is part of Tanzania’s power master plan, which envisions Stiegler’s Gorge helping interconnect the grids of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

The project involves a main dam and appurtenant structures, with expected reservoir length of 100 kilometers, covering an area of about 1,350 square km. The dam height is expected to rise to about 134 meters.

The dam will be fourth largest in Africa and ninth in the world.