TANZANIA’S long-standing endeavour to have adequate and reliable electricity supply through the 2,115-megawatt Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project (JNHPP) is close to becoming a reality with the dam’s construction reaching 86 per cent of completion.
This is a huge step towards the completion of the mammoth project, whose completion will certainly place Tanzania among the giants of power production in the African continent.
Besides its envisioned key role; power generation, the JNHPP also comes with a myriad of opportunities ranging from irrigation farming in the Rufiji delta, where an area of about 400,000 acres can be irrigated to fishing, a chance to practice modern fishing.
Energy Minister, Mr January Makamba issued an update on the project’s status during an inspection tour at JNHPP recently, indicating that the daily average filling of the dam was greater than expected as the dam possesses a capacity of 30 billion litres.
He observed that the current volume of the dam has reached six billion which is equivalent to 20 per cent since the beginning of the filling up.
He noted that statistics show that in the past two weeks, more water entered than during the floods which occurred December 2019 to 2020, noting that the filling up process has eradicated flood effects.
“The dam is starting to bear fruits as per expectations including the issue of controlling floods…I commend the job done by the engineers, technicians and labourers at the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) for fast tracking the work,” said Mr Makamba.
He added: “When President Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed office the project execution stood at 37 per cent but we are thankful that she continues with the work by dishing out needed funds, supervision and closely following up her subordinates to make this possible.”
He went on to reveal that TANESCO was doing a very good job in collaboration with Engineer Mwandambo in ensuring safety, while noting that the construction work was continuing during the day and night in ensuring its completion.
The Project Supervisor of JNHP project, Engineer Lutengano Mwandambo, highlighted that when they started filling the dam, the water was 71.5 meters long, but now they have reached 150 cubic meters from sea level, and that there was more than 79 meters of which has been filled since they started filling the dam.
He said the step was crucial in the project, which is expected to generate 2115 megawatts of electricity, noting that the water was needed to generate electricity, therefore the dam should be filled up with water at the level of 184 cubic meters from the sea level.
“For power generation to start, a total of 163 cubic metres above the sea level was required…we have remained with 13 cubic metres to arrive at the required capacity for power generation. The current filling up trend was very appealing taking into account the ongoing heavy rains,” noted the Engineer.
TANESCO Managing Director, Maharage Chande extended appreciation to his staff directly involved in the implementation of the construction of the project, maintaining that they were the ones who have achieved the construction to the current stage collaboratively.
“The project was the fourth largest in the African Continent…it is very moving to see the engagement and level of work put into the project for the benefit of Tanzanians,” stated Mr Chande.
End of last year when President Samia performed the historical act of launching the process of impounding water into the JNHPP dam as the initial stage towards the completion of the 6.5tri/- power generation project, maintained that the project will be completed as planned.
The event signalled the closure of the diversion tunnel, which redirected the Rufiji River back to its mainstream through the lower gates of the main dam after the impounding.
“This is a historic day towards the completion of this important project which places Tanzania in the world map,” Dr Samia said.
She said the project conveys a message to the world that Tanzania is capable of doing great things which can change its image and that of the world.
“I want to assure Tanzanians that I will oversee the execution of this project so that it is completed as planned,” Dr Samia insisted.
She said that JNHPP is one of the mega hydroelectric projects in Africa, noting that Tanzanians should be proud of the huge investment done by the government which will have multiple benefits to citizens and the country at large.
According to Dr Samia, the reservoir has the capacity to store sufficient water for generating power even during drought season, control floods and seasonal swamps and ensure reliable irrigation, among others.
The president said the project will also ensure reliable power supply for sustainable development and fulfill the dream of having such a power plant since independence.
She acknowledged the contribution by the first phase President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who came up with the idea of building a major hydropower plant in the area and the fifth phase government under President John Magufuli for initiating the execution of the project.
“We cannot talk about these achievements without honouring the contributions of other leaders… the implementation of this project started with the idea of Mwalimu Nyerere immediately after independence … other leaders did their part in different phases but due to economic situation the project could not be executed,” she said.
Dr Samia added that, during the fifth phase government through the call by the international community for countries to invest in renewable energy, Dr Magufuli decided to commence the implementation of the project to honour Mwalimu Nyerere’s idea.