Mtwara gas pipeline viewed as developing Dar es Salaam

Mtwara gas pipeline viewed as developing Dar es Salaam
Gas pipes

The Mtwara - Dar es Salaam gas pipeline project impact to national growth would be little compared to concerted effort on gas industry focusing on Mtwara as the centre, a section of stakeholders affirm.

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Friday, 30 November 2012 10:16

The Mtwara - Dar es Salaam gas pipeline project impact to national growth would be little compared to concerted effort on gas industry focusing on Mtwara as the centre, a section of stakeholders affirm.

The observation underlines that when the focus is on the selling of gas to people in Dar es Salaam and beyond, this neglects the breadth of activities available in the region and neighbouring regions. If well invested it would bring not only regional growth but the country to more pronounced growth effect, they say.

Mtwara Region is a target pole in future national growth which through oil and gas exploration is taking a higher profile. The gas industry has to be strengthened to build factories in the southern regions, local industrialists believe.

It is again necessary to strengthen oil and gas in the region to speed the exploration of coal and iron in Liganda and Mchuchuma, as well as the development of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCoT), whose related products would require sustainable energy for processing.

A cross section of Mtwara residents from different calibers interviewed recently expressed with negative feeling that the construction of the pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam has a weak base because the gas project should lift the development of Tanzania starting with Mtwara where the government can start establishing light, middle and heavy industries to serve incoming expansion.

Stakeholders in the southern tip of Tanzania say the expansion of Mtwara port and airport should be of major attention to the government in the national plan, which should determine the path of national growth, and that pipeline has direct indication of serving Dar es Salaam and other northern parts of the country.

President Jakaya Kikwete formally launched the gas pipeline construction in Dar es Salaam at Kinyerezi recently with expectation of reducing gas prices as more suppliers compete with Songas, the current market leader.

Alloys Mpunga is a veteran civil engineer currently taking up consultancy for new road construction in Mtwara town, whose opinion gave the impression he would not support the transfer of gas to Dar es Salaam as first priority.

According to him, the first priority would be the building of strong energy base which would invite establishment of factories for agro processing, mineral processing, fishing.

Others would be textiles, based on the fact that Mtwara port would permit importation and exportation of local products as well as importation of raw materials needed for growth of industries.

But the government seems to have forgotten that Mtwara is focal point for near future national growth, observers affirmed, insisting that thinking of gas supply to Dar es Salaam means more youths from the southern regions of Lindi, Ruvuma and Mtwara leaving to heavily populated and unemployment-haunted city of Dar es Salaam.

“The question of competition in gas supply is fine but the idea built here is to serve the city of Dar es Salaam while the development of other regions especially the source of energy is forgotten,” Mpunga elaborated.

Similar views were heard elsewhere, for instance from Dar es Salaam resident economist, Babton Chiza, living at Pugu Kajiungeni, who points that the gas and oil should start benefiting the original area.

“Mtwara has a lot of potentials that with the discovery and drilling of gas and oil, was vital for the government to take advantage to build Mtwara as another strong economic base, as Dar es Salaam was no more suitable for further expansion,” he said.

“The town has in recent years been an international topic with links to Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be opened up as it has the deepest port in Tanzania,” he further argued.

During the last Bunge session of the national Budget the Minister for Energy and Mineral, Prof. Sospeter Muhongo said that in an effort to end the power crisis, Tanzania and China had agreed on the construction of a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.

“On June 20 this year, we signed an agreement on financing the construction of the gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam at a cost of $1.225bn through a loan,” the minister said.

The pipeline is a 24-30 inch size compared to the existing 12-16 inch pipe owned by Songas, substantially increasing the volume of gas transported, transmitting 420 standard cubic feet of gas a day. That is suitable to generate over 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity including the 300MW plant at Mnazi Bay.

Generating companies say the pipeline project is expected to reduce the cost of producing thermal electricity from the current $0.34 cents to $0.12 cents per megawatt.

The natural gas pipeline is expected to be constructed from Mnazi Bay, Mtwara via Somangafungu in Lindi, where it would connect with the pipeline from Songosongo.


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