Up to $350 million will be invested for the drilling of steam fields in the south of Tanzania. This very large investment will be made by Geothermal Power Tanzania Ltd. GPT was founded in order to collaborate with Geothermal Power Ltd, the Tanzania National Development Corp. and Tanzanian mining company Interstate Mining & Minerals. The main goal of this collaboration is the development of Tanzania’s geothermal potential, which is high due to the fact that part of the Rift Valley is within its borders. Natural resources such as hot springs and volcanoes are available for exploration and energy development.
The GPT investment is part of a plan to build the first geothermal plants in the southern area. Their capacity is 140 MW and they could be finished by 2018. The country’s total geothermal potential was estimated last year at 650 MW.
Currently Tanzania’s 43 million citizens use petroleum, natural gas, hydroelectric and coal for most of their energy. Domestic energy development could go a long way to bolstering their economy, because a significant amount of their petroleum is imported, thus putting them at a disadvantage economically.
The sites of the new geothermal facilities will be the region of Mbeya. About two million people live in this area. There is also a city of the same name with about 285,000 residents. (About 76% of Tanzanians live in rural areas.)
Drought in Africa has lowered river levels enough that there has been less hydro power energy available, so geothermal has an appeal because of its reliability, once plants have been built and are operational.
Neighboring Kenya has had success with geothermal development, but Tanzania is trying to develop this energy resource much more quickly. Doing so could infuse their domestic economy with reliable homegrown energy sources, which presumably would go a long way towards energy and economic independence.
In psychological terms, it may also boost national pride and a sense of self-reliance.