Tanzania signed a $3 billion deal with two Egyptian companies on December 12th to construct a huge hydroelectric plant in the Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, amid criticism from environmentalists, according to AP.
President John Magufuli witnessed the signing of the agreement with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The companies involved are Arab Contractors and el-Sewedy Electric, an engineering services company.
Conservationists have opposed the construction of the hydroelectric plant along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve, which is renowned for its animal populations and variety of wildlife habitats. Conservationists see that the project would do huge damage to the environment, which also is a key tourist destination and source of revenue for the East African nation.
However, with only one-third of the country's population currently having access to electricity, Tanzania has argued that the project will double its total power supply and hence, boost development. The reservoir created by the dam is expected to be the largest in east Africa, inundating 1,200 sq. kms. (463 square miles) of land in an area known as Stiegler's Gorge. According to Egypt's state news agency, the dam is expected to produce 5,920 gigawatts of power annually.