40% of Tanzania’s budget proposal allocated for Stiegler’s Gorge hydro project

Tanzania’s federal budget proposal, unveiled yesterday, contains an allocation of US$307 million for the construction of the 2,100-MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric plant.

The sum represents more than 40% of the African country’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget and builds on funding announced by Tanzania’s government in September.

Stiegler’s Gorge, also known as the Rufiji project, will be located in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania’s Coast and Morogoro regions. It’s location has made it controversial throughout its development, with the reserve being the largest in Africa and added to the United Nations’ World Heritage list in 1982.

Construction of the facility will involve building a main dam and appurtenant structures, with expected reservoir length of 100 km, covering an area of about 1,350 square km. The dam height is about 134 meters.

The massive project has been on the drawing board for decades as part of Tanzania’s master power plan, which envisions Stieglers Gorge helping interconnect the grids of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

The plant was, through the mid-2000s, under the development of the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA) which announced it was seeking a partner to help finance Stiegler’s Gorge in August 2006.

A plan to complete the initiative in several stages was said to have been found technically and economically feasible in an independent World Bank review of the proposal, though RUBADA left the project some time before December 2010, when Brazil was reported to be in talks to construct the complex.

Tanzanian President John Mogufuli revived talks about the 2,100-MW Stieglers Gorge hydropower project during a tour of the country’s eastern coast last June.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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