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Tanzania to Construct Hydroelectric Power Plant Despite Criticism from Environmentalists

Magufuli said the project will not affect the environment and will boost the economy through industrialization

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Aerial view of the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. Wikimedia Commons

Despite criticism from environmentalists, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has inaugurated a new hydroelectric power project in Selous Game Reserve, a world heritage site. The project is expected to provide an additional 2,100 megawatts of electricity, which will more than triple Tanzania’s installed hydropower capacity of 562 megawatts.

Currently only 10 percent of households in Tanzania have access to the national grid for electricity, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Magufuli said the project will not affect the environment and will boost the economy through industrialization.

The project will be contained to 3 percent of the Selous Game Reserve, a protected area about the size of Switzerland, Magufuli said. Once completed, the dam will be owned by the Ministry of Tourism. Ahmed Elsewedy, spokesman for Elsewedy Electric, an Egyptian company which has financial interests in the project, said the company will open schools and help boost the economy.

tanzania, hydroelectric power plant
File: Robert moses niagara power plant. Wikimedia Commons

“We are honored to deal with Tanzania,” he said, adding that the company plans to build factories, increase trade, and open technical schools to train employees. “Our main purpose is to make the Tanzanian government, the Tanzanian people, have better [lives].”

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But conservation organizations have been raising concerns about the dam’s environmental impact since plans were released in 2009. The World Wildlife Fund says the project will endanger the livelihoods of some 200,000 people, including farmers and fishermen living downstream from the proposed dam.

According to the WWF, the Selous Game Reserve is one of Africa’s largest remaining wildnerness areas, and is home to elephants, black rhinos and wild hunting dogs. (VOA)

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Tanzania Denies Withholding Information from WHO on Suspected Cases of Ebola

This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide, Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu

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Tanzania, Information, WHO
FILE - A nurse prepares a vaccine against Ebola in Goma, DRC, Aug. 7, 2019. VOA

Tanzania denied Thursday it was withholding information from the World Health Organization (WHO) on suspected cases of Ebola, saying it was not hiding any outbreak of the deadly disease in the country.

“Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally. This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide,” Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu told journalists in commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

“Reports suggesting that Tanzania has not been transparent about suspected cases of Ebola and is not sharing information with the WHO are false and should be ignored.”

Last month WHO said Tanzania had refused to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases.

Tanzania, Information, WHO
Map of Tanzania showing cities and a refugee camp. VOA

Travel advisories

The organization said it was made aware Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and was unofficially told the next day the person had tested positive for Ebola.

This week the United States and Britain issued travel advisories to their citizens against Tanzania amid persisting Ebola concerns.

Days before WHO’s rebuke of Tanzanian authorities, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traveled to the country at the direction of U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar, who had also criticized the country for not sharing information.

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Mwalimu said Tanzania has investigated 28 suspected cases of Ebola over the past year, including two cases in September, but they all tested negative.

She said they had shared that information with WHO.

“We are committed to implement international health regulations in a transparent manner,” Mwalimu said.

High alert for Ebola

Tanzania, Information, WHO
Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally. Pixabay

Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spillovers of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a yearlong outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people.

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Tanzania and DRC share a border that is separated by a lake. (VOA)