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Tanzania plans to import 400 MW of electricity from Ethiopia

Tanzania plans to import 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Ethiopia to power its industrial drive, Tanzanian President John Magufuli said on Friday.

Despite reserves of over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, Tanzania faces chronic power shortages due to its reliance on hydropower dams in a drought-prone region, for about a third of its’ 1,570 MW of installed capacity.

Magufuli said at a joint news conference with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Dar es Salaam that the power will be transmitted through a high voltage line linking the two nations via Kenya. “He (Desalegn) has agreed to supply us with 400 megawatts, which could be increased later on,” Magufuli said.

Tanzania’s state-run power utility, TANESCO, currently sells electricity below cost, undermined by decades of mismanagement and political meddling. It also struggles to cope with transmission leaks and power theft. Tanzania aims to add about 2,000 MW in a gas-fired generation by 2018. Demand for power in the nation of 50 million currently outpaces supply.

Magufuli and Desalegn also witnessed the signing of various deals between the two countries, including cooperation on energy, tourism and agriculture sectors.

Ethiopia inaugurated a $1.57 billion hydropower plant along the Omo River in the country’s south in December that is expected to nearly double total electricity output to 4,238 MW.

Under a 2015-2020 development plan, Addis Ababa wants to raise output to 17,346 MW by harnessing hydropower, wind and geothermal sources. It has an array of projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam that will churn out 6,000 MW upon completion.

© Thomson Reuters 2017