Work towards constructing the 600MW gas fired power plant and a 650 km transmission line in Mtwara has started. The project is a public-private partnership involving Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco), Symbion Power and General Electric. Symbion Power CEO, Paul Hinks, said they have already started doing study work and equipment selection for the project
in Mtwara and expect to start construction in January, next year.
The project will see the building of a gas driven electricity plant in Mtwara to ease power shortages in the south of the country and elsewhere.
Tanzania estimates it has 41.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable natural gas reserves but little of it pumped out, while economic growth remains constrained by chronic energy shortages that result in frequent power blackouts. The proposed power plant, to be built in southern Tanzania’s Mtwara region, will also include a transmission line to Songea, a city several hundred kilometres away near Lake Malawi.
Tanzania is growing rapidly and to ensure we have an enabling environment that supports sustainable economic growth, we need to overcome inhibiting challenges such as interrupted power supply. Discoveries offshore of Tanzania and Mozambique waters have led to predictions the region could become the world’s third-largest exporter of natural gas. An expected influx in investment has also caused tensions in both countries.
Symbion Power Tanzania, a subsidiary of the U.S. power company, already runs a 55MW Diesel Engine Plant in Dodoma, the country’s administrative capital.
The Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, welcomed the development. He said it was already known that the public-private partnership initiative would bring results for the country’s power sector.
On whether Symbion’s coming is likely to cut down cost of electricity for rural Tanzania, Mr. Hinks said the company does not control the price of electricity in the country but insisted that Symbion cost of power is very competitive in world standards.
The CEO said Symbion rates are very low and the company is focused towards supporting the country and the government and they have a very long term view about their business interests in Africa and in Tanzania.
The project will also supply electricity to a new cement factory that will be constructed at a cost of US$500 million by the Dangote Company.