LESS than two months since being appointed President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Prof Akihiko Tanaka has chosen to make his first African visit in Tanzania, pledging more support to the country's power sector.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Monday, the new JICA President who took over from the outgoing Ms Sadako Ogata, said JICA would keep on providing financial and technical support to ensure Tanzania generates enough power in the near future.
He was speaking shortly before touring the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO)'s Technical Training School (TTS) at Masaki area where JICA is providing capacity building support under the 'Capacity Development of Efficient Distribution and Transmission Systems Project.'
"I'm pleased to be here and I look forward to strengthen ties with Tanzania in various areas of cooperation particularly in energy where we are looking to assist TANESCO be one of the capable entities on the continent," he said.
TANESCO technical training colleges both at Masaki and the City Centre were constructed in line with the five years 2009-2014 technical support worth over 5 million US Dollars (7bn/-) aiming at strengthening human capacity development of the company's technical staff.
The project also aims at improving the efficiency of TANESCO's performance through dispatch of local experts for training in Japan.
Prof Tanaka's five-day visit will also include meeting President Jakaya Kikwete regarding various development cooperation issues between the two countries. TANESCO Managing Director William Mhando said with JICA support, the firm was likely to sharpen the skills of its workforce by changing the working culture and emulating Japanese working spirit.
The MD said he had requested JICA to extend its capacity building support for another five years. "Although we are currently facing many challenges in the power sector, this project has been very important in empowering TANESCO for current and future challenges," he said.
Eng Mhando said the firm was in the final talks with partners to secure 408bn/- needed to improve the power situation in the country adding that the UK based City Bank had principally agreed to provide the funds.
Prof Tanaka is cheduled to attend the ongoing General Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB)as well as visiting power infrastructure rehabilitation projects funded by JICA in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions.
Prof Tanaka commended African countries including Tanzania for showing solidarity and emotional touch when his country was hit by the devastating earthquake-triggered tsunami. "This reminded us of how deeply our country was connected with the international community and many people in Japan then felt moved to give back something for them as a sense of solidarity," he said.