EFFORTS by President John Magufuli to light up the country have received a major boost, in the wake of the World Bank (WB) approving a $455 million credit (over 1.03 trl-) to provide households in previously grid-absent rural regions in southern regions with reliable access to electricity.
According to the press statement issued by the World Bank in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the bank's group board of executive directors has approved the credit for the construction of critical high voltage transmission infrastructure that will support electrification of the southern and northwestern regions of the country.
The project would also establish cross-border transmission capacity connecting Tanzania with the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP).
"This project builds on the great potential of the country's southern regions to contribute to the generation of jobs and drive overall economic growth, with the right infrastructure in place," said Bella Bird, the World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia.
"There are also direct benefits to businesses and households along the high voltage transmission line, which starts in Iringa, goes through Mbeya and ends in Sumbawanga, with additional benefits of improved reliability of power supply to the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania( SAGCOT), which is on the line route," she added.
She said the new International Development Association (IDA) credit is solely Tanzania's allocation as part of the 'Tanzania-Zambia Transmission Interconnector Project' (or "TAZA"), which is a series of two WB's projects.
Ms Bird noted that the scope of TAZA in the first project entails the construction of 620km 400 KV double circuit transmission lines from Iringa through Mbeya to Sumbawanga.
She added that the transmission line would also extend from Mbeya through Tunduma to the border with Zambia to be ready to connect to Zambia's grid when the country's power utility firm, ZESCO , finalizes its section of the transmission interconnector within Zambia (under the second project, expected by June 2019).
The TAZA consists of two intertwined pillars, the transmission infrastructure expansion and strengthening of technical capacity of Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) to engage in regional power trade.
"TANESCO's transmission network will operate as the "last mile" of connection between EAPP and SAPP or bidirectional regional power trade.
Thus, TAZA will also finance the upgrade of TANESCO's transmission system's operational capacity and corporate management system to meet the prerequisite technical requirements to operate in power pools," Ms Bird said.
World Bank Senior Energy Specialist Ms Nataliya Kulichenko said: "The construction of high voltage transmission infrastructure is vital not only for Tanzania's interconnection with the regional power markets of the Southern and Eastern Africa, but also for facilitating the overhaul of TANESCO's grid to enhance its reliability to the level of technical standards, required for trading power with neighbours in the South and the North."
Ms Kulichenko, who is also the Task Team Leader of the Project, added: "Financial benefits will also accrue from a reduction in TANESCO's operating costs due to improved infrastructure and ability to engage in regional power trade."
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives.
IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.