News emerged in Dar es Salaam yesterday about the further reduction of hydro electric power generation from at least two dams, reducing further the output of electricity available for consumers. It appears that the low level of water in the reservoirs behind the Mtera dam had lowered generating from the installed 80 MW capacity to only 30 MW while the Kidatu dams output had reduced from an installed capacity of 200 MW to a mere 40 MW as of now.
While drought is largely blamed for the low water levels it is also known that the cutting down of large swathes of forest in water towers across Tanzania is responsible for the gradual degradation in the water flow of rivers, a situation worsened by the increased extraction of water for irrigation and other uses, leaving too little to reach the crucial water reservoirs of hydro electric power plants across the country.
One hotelier in Dar es Salaam, when asked about his reaction, had this to say: Electricity rationing in Tanzania is not new, but it has become a lot worse now. The use of thermal stand by plants has also affected the tariffs and our cost for the use of our own in house generators has increased a lot because diesel now costs a lot more than a year ago.
Overall, our bottom lines are being affected greatly but we have no choice in the matter, we have to run our air conditioning, our cold rooms, elevators and all and that is what our guests expect and that is what we have to give them. There might be some relief in the future when the gas powered plants come on line and the gas pipeline from the field to Dar is ready, but until then we just have to bite the bullet and struggle on.
President Kikwete reportedly was briefed on the situation when he visited one of the power plants earlier in the week and has given assurances that alternatives for power production were being pursued on the fast track to reduce the often crippling power outages affecting industrial and domestic consumers.