How hydro firm will improve lives across Kihansi Basin communities

29Jan 2016
Our Reporter
The Guardian
How hydro firm will improve lives across Kihansi Basin communities

THE Mwenga hydro generation and rural electrification project, which is a subsidiary of rift valley energy, have started compensating more than 3000 villagers from 20 villages in Mufindi District.

Kihansi Gorge

The compensation will pave a way for mwenga hydro rural network extension into the Kihansi Basin, in Mufindi District, Iringa region so as to ensure connection of additional isolated rural villages in the district.
Speaking shortly after launching the compensation exercise last week, Mufindi District Commissioner Jowika Kasunga called the villagers to properly use their property compensation money by spending in economic development activities.
Kasunga further noted “After the Mwenga hydro rural network extension into the Kihansi Basin, we will definitely see development changes to this area because through electricity people will be opening more economic projects such as milling machines, as well as opening small scale processing factories”
For his part, Joel Gomba, Rift Valley Energy Tanzania Operation Manager said that more than 800m/- will be used for compensation to more than 3000 villagers.
“This power project will increase access to modern, affordable and sustainable hydro energy services; thereby improving socio-economic and environmental conditions of the rural poor in an additional 15 isolated villages in the Mufindi District that neighbour 17 villages already connected to the existing Mwenga hydro project,” he said.
“The project will see the installation of approximately 150km of additional 33 kV power lines, and 38 km of 400 Volt village distribution lines over the next 12 months, and will bring power within reach of a population of approximately 40,000 people that reside the 3 new wards to be incorporated,” he revealed.
Gomba went further saying that on completion of the project, 32 new rural villages will have access to reliable, grid quality power. 17 villages are currently connected.
“The European Union is strongly committed to the network extension project, and has allocated € 4,300,000 (approximately 10bn/-) for this purpose,” he said.
Head of Energy for Rift Valley Corporation, Michael Gratwicke said: “As the first licensed private distributor of clean energy in Tanzania, we recognize the developmental potential of power in underserved rural communities”.
Gratwicke added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Government of Tanzania and the European Union to deliver such an important project that will not only create a significant number of jobs over the construction period, but will also stimulate long-term economic development, and improve livelihoods across the Kihansi Basin communities.”
It is anticipated that approximately 3000 new connections will be made as a result of this rural network extension project, which will include the supply of electricity to 32 schools, 19 health centres, 450 small and medium enterprises, and the offices of all Local Authorities in the 18 new villages to be covered”.
He reveled that the project is a continuation of the previously implemented Mwenga Hydro 4 MW Project that currently supplies 17 villages in the Mufindi District, along with the surrounding tea industry, and TANESCO.
“The project currently supplies 1580 rural customer connections, providing either direct or indirect access to power for approximately 29,000 people that reside in the 17 villages that are already connected,” he said.
He also said the project expected to almost double this number of connections within this original area served within the next 4 years. Total connection numbers continue to rapidly expand, as the extension project continues”.
He underscored that the project was originally commissioned in September 2012 with the full co-operation of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, TANESCO, REA, EWURA, the European Union, the Rufijii Water Basin, The District Council, NEMC, and other related stakeholders.
“The original project was co-financed by the European Union with € 3,181,297 (49 percent of eligible costs), and $1, 300, 00 from the REA - TEDAP Performance Grant Facility. It was the first Greenfield project to be constructed under the SPPA program, and is also the holder of the first private distribution license in Tanzania,” he said.
Meanwhile, Usokami villager Nuhu Lunyungu said: “We thank Mwenga Hydro Project for coming to supply us with electricity. We hope that after getting the power everything will be changing in our village, thanks for their plans to our village.”

Usokami Village Executive Officer Richard Mandili said: “We expect to see a lot of developments activities in our village after the electricity, people will be opening business activities that are operated by electricity such as milling machines and others.”
Usokami villager Alex Ludege revealed that after getting the power they will be able to get information and news through televisions: “We expect to buy TV’s which will help us to be able to received breaking news.”

Frida Kilawa, a villager at Usokami said “When power is connected to our schools at our village, our children will be attending evening classes at school; this situation will help them learn more after school hours.”
The Mwenga Hydro Ltd is a division of Rift Valley Energy, which itself is a division of Rift Valley Corporation.
Rift Valley Energy is currently developing three small hydro projects in different locations across Southern Tanzania, each with associated rural electrification activities.
In addition to hydro projects, Rift Valley Energy is also developing a small wind project in the Mufindi area, in order to boost the dry season generation levels available to the customers within the Mwenga Hydro network. We hope that these new projects will be operational by the end of 2017.
Beyond energy projects, Rift Valley Corporation (the parent company of Rift Valley Energy) is working to help build a more prosperous Tanzania through the profitable development of land, water and agricultural resources.
The company does this through sustainable agriculture and developing renewable energy sources in rural Tanzania, creating much needed jobs to support families and our local businesses, whilst continuing to strive toward long-term development in its host communities.
Rift Valley Corporation has been operating in Tanzania since 1957 through Mufindi Tea and Coffee Limited, who operates four tea plantations, including the Luponde Estate, which is one of the largest organic tea estates in Africa.

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