On 26th July 2019 the President of Tanzania, Hon. Dr. John Magufuli laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Rufiji Hydropower Project (RHPP) at Stiegler’s Gorge on the Rufiji River.
Located in the Selous Game Reserve, Pwani (Coast) Region, approximately 220 km (137 mi), by road, southwest of Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, the hydropower plant is planned to have an installed capacity of 2,115 megawatts when completed in June 2022.
The hydropower project will cost TZS 6.5 trillion(USD 1.38 billion) and will be the largest in East Africa, the fourth-largest in Africa, and the ninth-largest in the world when completed.
In his speech, Hon. President Magufuli reminded that the station will increase the country’s current electricity output of 1,601 megawatts to 10,000 megawatts by 2025.
Moreover, the 134 m (440 ft) arched concrete dam will create a water reservoir of 34,000 million m3 that will provide water for irrigation and animal husbandry.
However, the project has met strong opposition in Tanzania and abroad for the environmental impact as it is located in the Selous Game Reserve, one of the world’s largest World Heritage sites, and it will imply large-scale deforestation.
The World Heritage Committee reiterated its grave concern about Tanzania’s decision to move forward on the project, added it to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
In 2017, President Magufuli announced that the Stiegler’s Gorge Dam would be a flagship development project of his government and would be financed by the government.
A first-round of bidding for the construction tenders was held in the autumn of 2017.
This was unsuccessful, initiating a second round in spring 2018 when a consortium comprising Arab Contractors and El Sewedy of Egypt won the bid.