The Kihansi hydro power project in Tanzania, one of the largest electricity projects in the country, has been inaugurated by Tanzania’s President Benjamin Mkapa. But while the 180MW Kinhansi project takes off, power rationing looks imminent as water levels have dropped considerably at the Mtera and Nyumba ya Mungu dams in southern and northern Tanzania.

Ethiopia is facing similar problems. The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO), the only power distributor in Ethiopia, has instituted a power rationing schedule which includes a total 16-hour blackout every fourth day. This latest power rationing measure has replaced an earlier one under which there was a blackout for a similar duration every three days. The improved rationing schedule is possible due to an increase in water at the dams of the Koka and Melka Wakena hydro plants, the two biggest suppliers of electricity in Ethiopia.

Finally, Malawi is working on completion of the US$130M Kapichira hydroelectric power plant which, officials say, will improve the power generation capacity of the Electricity Supply Corporation (ESC) of Malawi. The project is situated at the site of the Kapichira Falls on the Shire river in the southern district of Chikwawa. Two 32MW units have already been commissioned and another 64MW (2x32MW units) will be added to the national grid when the project is completed in 2003.

ESC’s project manager Lameck Mchembe said although the project will ensure that electricity generation will improve, the corporation will also go ahead with plans to obtain power from neighbouring Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa dam.