14 May 2012 – Tanzania’s national electricity supply utility Tanesco has warned that low water levels in the Mtera dam would enable the production of electricity for only a few more months, and that if the situation did not improve expensive emergency power would have to be used.

Companies such as USA based Symbion Power have plants in the country that can supply some of this emergency capacity. In May 2011 Symbion acquired a 120 MW gas turbine plant at Ubungo, Dar es Salaam, and later last year was fast tracking a 55 MW diesel engine plant at Dodoma.

The company website says that this 55 MW thermal plant utilises diesel engines and is part of the total additional 250 MW that will be incrementally added to the existing 112 MW, bringing the total megawatts produced by Symbion in Tanzania to 317 MW.

Last year, frequent power blackouts saw Tanzania’s economic growth rate slow to 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 6.7% a year earlier. Electricity output fell 1.7% compared with 9.7% growth a year ago, with low water levels crimping hydroelectric production and maintenance work affecting gas-fuelled power generation. The electricity crisis caused growth in Tanzania’s manufacturing sector to decline to 6.6% from 9.9% a year previously.