TWO years since the sixth phase government led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan came to power; efforts to improve the energy sector to create a sustainable environment are a great comfort for the nation.
The challenge of careless cutting of trees for cooking in this country will be stopped when we have the certainty of electricity and gas, so the efforts to build the Stiegler’s Gorge dam and extract natural gas in south of the country are a comfort in this country.
The issue of the environment is a cross-cutting issue, so destruction brings great harm to food security, floods, droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, diseases and other problems, so efforts to deal with the situation are a great comfort to Tanzanians.
These efforts have shown the light of a new Tanzania with reliable electricity due to efforts for completion of the construction of the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project and nearby signing of natural gas extraction in March this year.
The construction of the Julius Nyerere Dam and the intention to start the extraction of natural gas in the sea are the encouraging efforts that we are moving towards energy security in this country and even enable it to be transported to countries that need it.
The certainty of electric energy is a consolation for our current world where every time there is a challenge of destroying the environment and thus causing harm to humans and other creatures.
The Mwalimu Nyerere dam, whose construction has reached 78 per cent and costs Sh. 6.5 tri / is expected to generate 2,115 megawatts of electricity which will be fed into the national grid and end the electricity challenge in the country.
According to the Minister for Energy, Mr January Makamba, the project has reached 78 per cent of construction and is expected to be completed in 2024. This JNHPP which will generate 2,115 megawatts will be the largest in East Africa and number four in Africa.
Engineer Said Kimbanga at the project said there are nine plants where each one will be generating 235 megawatts, so a total of 2,115 megawatts will be generated, and the water that will enter to generate electricity comes from Kilombero River, Ruaha Mkuu and Kuwegu.
He said the area of the dam project is 915 hectares with a capacity of 32 billion litres of water while the valve closed in the power generation project is the third largest in the world where the first is in Pakistan and the second is in India.
Recently, President Dr Samia together with the Second Phase President, Mr Alhaj Ally Hassan Mwinyi, the Fourth Phase President, Dr Jakaya Kikwete, the Vice Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), retired Colonel Abdulrahman Kinana, and the Secretary General of CCM, Mr Daniel Chongolo and other government leaders were among the leaders who came to witness the start of water filling in the dam.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan, while inaugurating the filling of water in the JNHPP located in Rufiji in the Coast region, pressed the button that lowered the gates to block the water diversion and allow water to start filling the dam.
The step of filling water in the dam with a size of 32.3 cubic meters is expected to use two rainy seasons to complete the filling and allow the power plants to be activated.
Minister Mr Makamba said the action to prevent the diversion of water to allow water to fill the dam, will not prevent the water of the Rufiji river from going to the other side for other ecological and agricultural uses due to the way the project was designed.
He mentioned that one of the benefits of the project apart from generating electricity is for the farmers who cultivate farms in the Rufiji River Valley to benefit because it will prevent the floods that were causing crop damage and from now on the water that will go down to the farmers will be controlled and reach the appropriate level.
Mr Makamba said that the project is expected to eliminate the problem of electricity shortage in the country and reduce costs for citizens and enable Tanzania to be self-sufficient in its electricity needs and have a surplus to be sold abroad.
The construction of the dam is carried out in stages where in order to get the dam, the contractors had to divert the water of the Rufiji River and find a dry area to dig a tunnel and make a perforated embankment that allows water to be filled in the 700 meter long tunnel.
Another step that is a good light for the development of the energy sector is for the Ministry of Mines to sign a contract to extract Natural Gas (LNG) in the Great Ocean area in Southern Tanzania in March this year.
Tanzania has been researching natural gas for more than 50 years. The first discovery of natural gas in the country was made in 1974 in Songo Songo Island in Lindi Region and followed by the second discovery in Mnazi Bay in Mtwara region in 1982.
Natural gas from Songosongo was sold for the first time in 2004 and from Mnazi Bay in 2006. The discovery has stimulated further research of natural gas for land and water areas.
There are four service providers that carry out natural gas operations in the middle and downstream in the ocean which are the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), Songas Limited, Pan African Energy Tanzania Limited (PAET), and Maurel & amp; Prom (M & amp P).
There are companies that continue to do research in the sea and on land and they are Ophir Energy plc, Shell/BG Group plc (BG), Statoil, ExxonMobil, and Ndovu Resources (Aminex).
In March 2016, the Ministry of Energy confirmed that discovered natural gas reserves reached 57.25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Most of the gas, about 49.5 trillion cubic feet, lies deep under the Indian Ocean so high-tech rigs will be needed to extract it.
This agreement with Shell of England and Equinor of Norway is going to enable it to extract and process the gas ready for sale in the form of Liquidised Natural Gas (LNG).
LNG is a gas that has been processed and placed in a liquid form while being processed more than 600 times from its original size and being in a state of severe cooling of negative 162 degrees to facilitate its handling and transportation.
The implementation of this project is expected to be completed in 2025 and start operations between 2029 and 2030 at the liquid gas plant that will be built in the city of Lindi located in southern Tanzania more than 450 kilometers from the commercial city of Dar es Salaam.
“The clear benefits of the project is to create many jobs and increase the circulation of money”, says the economist Dr Barnos William from Moshi Cooperative University.
The East African Community (EAC) will meet in an oil and gas conference on May 9 to 11 in Uganda where, among other things, the mission to start the project will be given priority.
Deputy Minister for Energy Mr Stephen Byabato said recently that 60 to 70 per cent of the electricity produced in Tanzania, which is 1,900 megawatts, comes from gas.
The large project worth shs 70 tri/ where the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), the Zanzibar Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Control Authority (ZPRA) will invest energy to ensure that it is completed.
The countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Uganda have shown that they need to use Tanzanian gas, so with that desire, the market for the product has already been found.
But the existence of the economic zone should not in any way be left to be monopolised by foreigners; President Dr Samia recently made the statement which is encouraging.
“I ask Tanzanians to organise themselves, to be able to take care of the project, ourselves so that we can develop our local economy,” said President Dr Samia during the signing of the initial agreement in Dodoma.
Along with these advantages, the biggest challenge facing Tanzania is the experience of running such a large project.
President Samia encouraged Tanzanians to learn because they have never done it, and must rely on encountering mistakes here and there, however, in the initial stages, the consulting company Baker Botts of England has been hired to help in initial stages and in implementing this project.
At that point, it is a blessing and a great comfort for Tanzanians to be able to have large energy projects to create a sustainable environment for access to that important resource for the development of our nation of Tanzania.