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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > April-June 2018 (82) > Damming the Selous

Damming the Selous

Tanzania has ambitious plans to ramp up its power-generating capacity by almost eightfold in less than a decade. While few would argue that greater and more reliable access to power is crucial for the country’s economic future, one particular project is causing major concern among environmentalists: a US$2.6 billion hydro plant in the renowned Selous Game Reserve. Peter Borchert reports

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Tanzania, like many sub- Saharan countries, desperately needs access to more power. Without it, any ambitions of economic growth for this East African nation of some 60 million people, which happens also to be one of the poorest in the world, will remain unfulfilled.

Currently, Tanzania’s electricity production is heavily reliant on natural gas and hydro, which together provide more than 85 per cent of the country’s meagre 1400 MW capacity. The balance comes in dribs and drabs from a mix of wind, solar, coal, biomass, geothermal and other micro projects. But this is not nearly enough: with fewer than 40 per cent of Tanzanians having access to electricity and overall demand growing at 10-15 per cent year on year, the government’s plan to increase generation to 10,000 MW by 2025 and to give 90 per cent of citizens access to electricity by 2035 is completely understandable.

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