Tanzania eyes hydropower project in world-heritage site Selous reserve, ignores criticism


Tanzanian President John Magufuli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Tanzania's President John Magufuli Tuesday met with a team of experts to discuss the building of a hydroelectric power dam at Stiegler’s Gorge in Selous Game Reserve, despite concerns from environmental experts.

The meeting was part of the implementation of a government’s plan to end power shortages in the country, according to a press release issued by the State House in Dar es Salaam.

The dam will be constructed in Morogoro on the falls of Rufiji River. The plant is expected to produce 2,100 megawatts.

During the Tuesday meeting, President Magufuli told the experts that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn would a send team of experts, who constructed the biggest hydroelectric project in Ethiopia for an exchange programme.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) the Ethiopian Prime Minister will send a team of experts for an exchange programme. They will be able to share their experience.

"I want us to be fast on this project so that we can be able to produce enough power for industrial use,” he said.

Reconsider plans

The German Ambassador to Tanzania Egon Kochanke was recently quoted asking the government to reconsider the implementation of construction activities within the reserve, saying they would bring negative impacts on the ecosystem.

He made the statement during the launch of the Selous Ecosystem Conservation and Development Programme.

“The government should reconsider several projects within the Selous Game Reserve (SGR) such as hydroelectric power production at the Stiegler’s Gorge, Uranium extraction at Mkuju and Kidunda Dam water production as they will negatively impact the SGR ecosystem,” he said.

Selous, which cover about 50,000 square kilometres, is one of the largest protected game reserves in Africa that is relatively undisturbed by human impact, according to Unesco.

It is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.