12 March 2013 – Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) says that the country will continue to experience random power cuts for the next 18 months. At that point it is hoped the proposed US$1.22 billion natural gas pipeline to run from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam will be completed.
Tanesco acting managing director Felchesmi Mramba says that the frequent power cuts were mainly due to high power generating costs in meeting the country’s electricity demand. A mere 130 MW is being generated from Kidatu, Pangani and Kihansi hydroelectricity sources and prolonged drought could make the situation worse.
The country is seeking a US$100 million loan from the World Bank for emergency electricity generation after low water levels hurt hydropower output. In 2012 Tanesco negotiated a syndicated loan of US$251 million from a consortium of banks led by Citibank and had received part of the funds.
The unreliable nature of its hydro generation is forcing Tanesco to spend more than twice its daily income on a mixture of diesel, jet A1 and heavy fuel oil for mini-generators that produce 365 MW. The power utility is certain that completion of the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam pipeline will allow for cheaper gas-based electricity production.
The country’s average power demand stands at 750 MW a day and peaks at around 850 MW.
Tanzania has vast deposits of natural gas but it has been plagued by frequent power outages, which led to a slowdown in economic growth in 2011/12.
“The gas pipeline will give a major relief not only to power generation but to the entire economy of Tanzania. We currently have 170 MW of idle power plants because we don’t have enough natural gas supply,” Mramba says.