Help could be at hand for the struggling national grid with the revival of a long-standing project to build a 2100MW hydroelectric power station on the Rufiji river in the Selous Game Reserve southwest of Dar es Salaam.

The so-called Stiegler Gorge (STIGO) power project is a joint venture of the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA) and the Infrastructure Development Finance of South Africa. The initiative still needs final clearance from the government, but if all goes to plan the power plant could be running at full capacity by 2017.

The extra power would be a major boon for Tanzania, which struggles with regular power cuts due to problems with maintenance and supply. The project might also reduce flooding in the lower Rufiji valley due to controlled water discharge from the dam, as well as opening up the tourist potential of an important wildlife area. However, experts warn of other negative environmental impacts particularly on floodplain and delta fisheries and agriculture.

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