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Tanzania not aware of any deal for construction
of grand hydropower project - says Presidency

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania said on Tuesday it was not aware of any deal to award the tender for the construction of the Stiegler’s gorge hydropower project to Egyptian company Arab Contractors.

Gerson Msigwa, Director of Presidential Communication at State House, said: "I haven’t seen those reports."

Msigwa was commenting on reports from the presidential palace in the Egyptian capital Cairo saying Arab Contractors has apparently outbid over 50 other international companies to build what is officially known as the Rufiji Hydropower Project at Stiegler’s gorge along the Rufiji River.

President John Magufuli telephoned his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, on Sunday to formally inform him about the decision to award the tender for the mega project to the Cairo-based construction company, according to a statement from Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady.

Al-Sisi has accepted Magufuli’s invitation to attend a ground-breaking ceremony to mark commencement of the construction work at a date to be announced later, Egyptian media reported on Tuesday.

The Tanzanian government invited bids last year to build a 2,100-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant inside the Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site renowned for its animal populations, despite opposition from conservationists to the long-delayed project.

The Arab Contractors company announced on Monday that it has won a tender to execute the biggest hydroelectric dam in Tanzania, in partnership with Egyptian cable maker ElSewedy Electric.

The two companies submitted an offer to build a hydroelectric dam in the Stiegler’s gorge, with investments worth about 3 billion dollars, according to latest media reports from Egypt.

However, the project has courted local and global controversy, with conservationists calling for a comprehensive strategic environmental assessment before the project is implemented.

"The impact on Tanzania’s largest river would affect many ecosystem services it provides. It would affect tourism in Selous downstream in some of the most abundant wildlife areas in the game reserve," conservation group WWF said in a report last year.

President Magufuli has dismissed the concerns, saying only a tiny fraction of the Selous would be used to build the proposed hydropower dam.

A hydropower dam at Stiegler’s gorge was considered by the Tanzanian government since the 1960s, but the project never took off due to lack of funding.

Magufuli considers the project as key to solving the country’s energy needs, saying it would lead to the generation of cheap, abundant electricity to power the government’s industrial drive.

Magufuli recently slammed a new environment audit of the project by a team of Tanzanian experts and ordered his government to change recommendations of the report in favor of broader "national interests."

"I have already issued instructions that they should change the recommendations of the report by the so-called Tanzanian environmental experts," the president declared.

He dismissed recommendations of the experts, which he said call for environment screening of all construction materials and other objects brought to the site of the project to minimize any possible impact to the surrounding area.


Egypt will help Tanzania build huge dam on Rufiji River

Over 50 multinationals bid for construction of
hydropower dam in Tanzania game reserve

Tanzania develop power project in Selous game reserve



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