25 October 2012 – The semi-autonomous group of islands that form Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast is having a 100 MW submarine cable laid. The cable, which stretches from Zanzibar’s Unguja Island to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital, is being financed by the US government and is part of a US$206.5 million package being provided to the Tanzanian energy sector.

The cable, which is about 39 km long, is expected to be completed in December 2012.This project will cost someUS$28.1 million, with 24 communication fibre optic lines and 400 reserved emergency wires.Zanzibar has been struggling with the problem of power shortage for years. The islands experienced a blackout for almost three months after the existing submarine cable, which connects Tanzania’s mainland and the islands, failed in December 2009.

The new cable being installed will be more than double the capacity of the existing cable.

The contract to manufacture, deliver, and install this submarine power cable was signed in April 2010 at Stone Town by representatives of the USMillennium Challenge Corporation and the winning firm, Viscas Corporation of Japan.

Other key components of the Zanzibar interconnection project are also approaching completion. Kalpataru Power Transmission is erecting 195 new monopoles that will hold 37 kilometres of overhead power lines to bring power from Ras Fumba, where the submarine cable makes landfall, to Mtoni near Stone Town where a new substation is being constructed via a joint venture between Alstom Grid and Symbion Power. The substation will receive and distribute power throughout Unguja.

On the mainland, the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, signed in 2008 between the governments of Tanzania and the US, is also supporting the upgrade of 25 additional power substations, as well as the rehabilitation and expansion of power transmission and distribution lines in seven regions; Mwanza, Tanga, Dodoma, Morogoro, Mbeya, Iringa and Kigoma.