29 April 2013 – Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous islands off Tanzania’s coast, celebrated the end of electricity rationing when a national grid link from the mainland, a 100 MW undersea cable, was inaugurated on the 10th of April.
However, while there were celebrations, concerns did remain due to increasing demand on the mainland and unstable sources of hydroelectricity in Tanzania. Members of the Zanzibar house of representatives said that the islands should invest in other sources of power such as solar, wind, sea waves, and power generation from waste.
The legislators did offer their thanks to the US, which through its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provided funding for the over US$68 million electricity project that included laying of the new undersea cable.
The Zanzibar government contributed US$1.4 million to compensate people who had their properties destroyed during the project, and the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (ZECO) contributed US$200,000 for the work. Unguja Island, Zanzibar’s administration headquarters and commercial city, suffered blackouts in 2008 when the old 40 MW cable went down for three months followed by power rationing that began in 2010.
Zanzibar asked for assistance from development partners and successfully won a grant from the US to purchase the US$28.1 million marine cable which also contains fibre optics to improve communication. The marine cable is expected to have a lifespan of 40 years.