Despite massive criticism, the government of Tanzania Tuesday said it will go ahead with its plans to build the long-delayed 2,100 megawatt hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site.
According to the government, the project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve is vital to ease power shortage in a country and add about 2,000 MW in the gas-fired generation by 2018.
However, environmentalists say the construction of a hydropower dam in a major river that runs through the Selous Game Reserve could affect wildlife and their habitats downstream.
The game reserve is one of the largest UNESCO protected areas in Africa. It covers 50,000 sq km and is home to elephants, black rhinoceroses, and giraffes, among many other species.
According to Reuters, in a statement from the office of President John Magufuli, the project will start as quickly as possible and produce an abundant supply of electricity to speed up the development of the country.
Though the cost of the project is not known, the statement said a team of experts from Ethiopia would arrive in the country at the course of the week to provide advice on its implementation.
Ethiopia itself has a collection of hydropower projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam along the Nile River that will churn out 6,000 MW upon completion.
In 2011, the government received criticism for granting Australia-based miner Mantra Resources to build a $400 million uranium mine in 34,532 hectares of land inside the UNESCO World Heritage Game Reserve