Tanzania has finally invited bids to construct a huge hydroelectric dam in one of Africa’s largest wild areas-the Selous game reserve regarded as a world heritage site.
The move to go ahead with construction of the project at the Selous Game Reserve a UNESCO-designated site essentially means that the country has decided to ignore criticism by environmentalists opposed to the project.
Tanzania believes that the 2,100-megawatt (MW) Stiegler’s Gorge dam will help diversify its energy mix and end persistent electricity problems in the country. The project would more than double the country’s power generation capacity.
The deadline for bids is Oct. 16, according to the document, which specifies that work must be completed within a period of 36 months, with a maximum mobilization period of three months.
The government did not say how much the project would cost and how it would raise financing.
Covering 50,000 sq km, the reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, according to UNESCO. It is known for its elephants, black rhinoceroses and giraffes, among many other species.
The WWF conservation group said in a report in July the proposed large-scale hydropower dam “puts protected areas of global importance, as well as the livelihoods of over 200,000 people who depend upon the environment, at risk.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project is likely to have a potentially negative impact to wildlife in the area especially the critically endangered black rhinoceros.
Unesco has been quoted as saying that the site is in danger following drop in animal numbers. The organization blames poaching for the menace.