Tanzania has invited bids for mega logging in an area around the Rufiji River in the protected Selous game reserve,where it plans to construct a huge hydropower plant, Dos Santos Silayo the Chief Executive of the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency has said.
TFS has placed a tender invitation on its website inviting bids for logging of tradition standing trees with a total volume of 3,495,362.823 cubic meters in Rufiji district in Coast region, setting in motion plans to develop the project.
The logging tender will be opened on Wednesday morning at the TFS office in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, according to the document.
Tanzania is optimistic that clearing the trees will allow construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project to start June this year. Late last month, the country announced that it was in talks with the Africa Development Bank to finance the project.
The AfDB confirmed that it had received the request to finance the huge hydropower plant in Tanzania and that it was reviewing it.
Upon completion, the hydro dam project will provide 2,100MW of electricity to a country that is currently extremely under-supplied. With a population of approximately 53m Tanzania has just 1,400MW of installed grid capacity.
Spanning over 20,000 square miles, a land area larger than Denmark, the Selous game reserve is considered one of the largest protected wild areas in Africa and is home to several wildlife species as well as an “exceptionally high variety of habitats” according to Unesco.
Conservationists are opposed to this project saying it threatens the endangered animal species in the area especially the black rhinoceros and elephants.
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.
But Tanzania says that the country wants to industrialize and cannot do so unless it has reliable power. The east African second largest economy banks on the hydroelectric project to end its persistent power problem.
“The Stiegler’s Gorge power generation project was expected to completely end the country’s power woes and sustain local industries with electricity and sell the surplus outside the country,” says Medard Kalemani, Tanzania’s Minister for Energy.