Thanks to recent heavy rainfall, Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) has lifted power rationing and put its Kidatu (200MW) and Mtera (80MW) hydro power plants back into full operation.

Dry weather had forced the company to close Mtera completely and reduced Kidatu to half of its normal operating capacity. The Kihansi run-of-the-river plant also had to shut down one of its three turbines.

TANESCO began load shedding at the beginning of November 2000 after a lack of rainfall that spanned the previous two years. Power rationing lasted two to three weeks and was managed by arbitrarily splitting the distribution grid in Darasalem into two and allowing each half access to electricity for eight-hour periods at a time. The effect on industry in the area was ‘very bad’ according to FX Saidi, director of operations at TANESCO, but he does not anticipate further rationing.

‘Fortunately we have had more rain than we expected since the end of December 2000,’ said Saidi. ‘This was our short rainfall season. The long rains are due to start in March, so we have to wait and see if they come, but for the moment the levels are high and we are quite safe.’

Hydro power is a major source of electricity in Tanzania, supplying 67% of the country’s installed capacity. Plans to pipe natural gas to Darasalem will increase the capacity of its only thermal plant, Ubungo – currently running on expensive jet fuel – from 100MW to 150MW with the addition of a new turbine. The pipeline is scheduled to go on-line in 2003.