Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — Through the combination of gas and wind turbines projects that were launched early this year, Tanzania is gearing towards generating about 4,000 megawatts, a move which would enable the country to export the excess electricity.
Being the only country in the region producing electricity from natural gas, Tanzania is on course to be the first nation in the East Africa region to produce electricity using wind turbines.
It would mean that starting 2015, the country will be able to stay away from hydropower projects to generate electricity, thus relying on natural gas and wind turbines to engender power to the national grid.
This will tremendously reduce power blackouts in the country.
The ambitious project will be spurred by the World Bank, through partnership with two firms.
One is locally based, while the other, the Singida's wind power project has already taken off. It is estimated to supply 100 megawatts to the national grid and the country's total wind power potential is has not yet been established.
However the deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals Mr. Stephen Masele said recently that the key power sources of geothermal power, wind and hydropower have a combined potential of 15,000 MW.
The $285m wind turbines project aims at tapping the huge wind power potential available to relegate the reliance on costly, fuel-generated power and unreliable hydroelectricity.
The wind-powered electricity will start flowing into the national grid in May 2015 from the undertaking touted as the country's first successful, independent wind energy project, according to Mr. Omar Seydi, IFC Director for East and Southern Africa.
The project is an addition to a series of others that aim to eliminate power woes in the country. Last month, President Jakaya Kikwete commissioned the construction of a Tsh2trn ($1.25bn), gas pipeline that will bring gas to Dar es Salaam from Mnazi Bay in Mtwara to generate 2,780 megawatts.
Power from this gas project is also expected to start flowing into the national grid by 2015. The project involves approximately 532 km of gas pipeline, with a 36 inch main line and one 24 inch spur line.
"The pipeline will have a capacity of 784 MMcf/d of gas, to be used for the production of 3,900 MW of electricity," President Kikwete said during the launch.
The project could also tap into the over 47 trillion cubic feet natural gas discovered off the coast of Tanzania. The East African Community secretariat has already conducted a feasibility study to set up another the Dar es Salaam-Tanga-Mombasa natural gas pipeline.
On completion, the project will allow the Mnazi Bay Concession partners and others to transport natural gas to large-scale electricity producers, and other industrial users and major population centres in Tanzania.
The start of construction comes after the Tanzanian Finance Minister Dr William Mgimwa outlined funding plans for the Mtwara to Dar pipeline in his presentation to the National Assembly on the 2012-13 budget in June 2012.
Dr Mgimwa said that the Government expects to borrow $746m worth of external non-concessional loans, which will be used to finance various development projects, including the pipeline. Specifically, he said that the government will implement the construction of the pipeline using a $1.23bn loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, which will be managed by the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.
Seydi said that of the Tsh456bn ($285.63m) needed for the wind turbines project, IFC, Aldwych and Six Telecoms will contribute $18m during the development stage and $71m in total equity, the statement said.
"This development will effectively diversify Tanzania's power supply which has for ages been sourced mainly from water dams," Seydi said. The rest of the money to cover the required Tsh456bn ($285.63m) would be obtained through loans from international financial institution.
The provisional licence was granted last November by Ewura and the project will start the production of the envisaged 100MW in May 2015. "IFC invested in Wind East Africa's Singida farm to support a pioneering energy project that can serve as an example to the entire region."
"With growing demand for electricity in Africa's economies, independent power projects like the one in Singida can add much-needed capacity to the power grid," Seydi said in the statement last week.