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Two foreign firms to invest in geothermal power generation

Prof Sospeter Muhongo, Minister for Energy and Minerals
Two foreign companies from Japan and Iceland have shown interest to invest in Tanzania’s geothermal power generation.

Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo revealed this here yesterday when responding to a supplementary question by Nzega MP Dr Dalali Peter Kafumu (CCM), who had wanted to know the extent of investment in the geothermal power area.

Responding, Prof Muhongo stated that Tanzania has a total of 15 areas which are potential for geothermal production.

“But, according to the geological survey, three areas have shown to have enough stock of steam ranging from 220 to 250 degrees centigrade, which is the temperature required for power production,” he said, citing Lake Ngozi in Mbeya where the first geothermal power project is expected to start before the end of this year.

Muhongo however failed to disclose names of the companies from Japan and Iceland which are to carry out power generation activities in the area.

Recently, Geothermal Power Tanzania Ltd expressed interest to invest as much as USD 350 million to drill steam fields in the country’s south and build its first geothermal plant with the capacity to generate up to 140 megawatts by 2018.

The company began drilling two wells in Tanzania’s southwestern Mbeya region this year and found there’s potential to create power from steam within at least two systems in the area.

Tanzania, which doesn’t currently produce any geothermal energy, lies in the same Rift Valley fault system as Kenya, Africa’s biggest geothermal-power producer with an estimated untapped resource of as much as 10,000 megawatts. Geothermal energy harnesses steam and hot water from underground to power turbines in facilities that generate electricity.

In her basic question, Special Seats MP Pudenciana Kikwembe (CCM), wanted to know government plans to provide clean and safe water for people living in Majimoto ward, taking into account that water flowing in the area is not fit for human consumption.

In his response, deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Kassim Majaliwa, admitted: “It is true that water flowing from hot springs is not safe for human consumption.”

“As government, we are aware of the challenge and a deep borehole has been drilled in the area at a cost of 19.85bn/- by 2011/2012 fiscal year.”
According to Majaliwa, the government is in final stages to get a contractor to build a water supply project in the area. The project is to cost 526.813m/- in the 2013/14 financial year.

So far, Mlele district council has approved a total of 1.329bn/- to finance water projects in the area.

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