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Tanzania switches on first turbine of Julius Nyerere Power Project Hydro Plant in World Heritage Site

Tanzania switches on first turbine of Julius Nyerere Power Project Hydro Plant in World Heritage Site

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Tanzania has activated the first turbine of its highly anticipated Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant, marking a significant step towards doubling the country’s electricity generation capacity. Despite concerns from conservationists about the dam’s location within a World Heritage Site, the government is pushing forward with the project, citing its crucial role in addressing widespread power shortages.

The 2,115-megawatt plant, named after Tanzania’s founding president, began contributing 235 megawatts to the national grid on February 22nd, exceeding the government’s promise by three days. This initial contribution is expected to significantly reduce months-long power rationing and pave the way for the complete elimination of rationing when the second turbine comes online next month.

The project, however, has been met with opposition from environmental groups who argue that the dam on the Rufiji River could disrupt wildlife migration patterns and harm the delicate ecosystem of the Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite these concerns, the government, under both former President John Magufuli and his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan, has maintained its commitment to the project, highlighting its potential to bring much-needed electricity to a nation where nearly half the population lacks access.

Energy Minister Doto Biteko, who visited the plant on Sunday, emphasized the government’s dedication to ensuring all future hydroelectric projects adhere to water sustainability principles. He also outlined plans for further diversifying the country’s energy sources through investments in gas, solar, wind, and geothermal power.

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The project’s initial success has been lauded by various stakeholders, including the project contractor who commended Dr. Biteko’s leadership and the local authorities who see the plant as a catalyst for industrial development in the Coastal Region.

With eight more turbines to be activated in the coming months, the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant is poised to transform Tanzania’s energy landscape, potentially leading to a surplus of electricity and paving the way for further economic growth. However, the environmental impact of the project remains a concern, and efforts to mitigate potential harm to the surrounding ecosystem will be crucial in the long run.


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