Tanzania: Wonders of U.S.$32 Million Songwe Project
Songwe Region has started tapping into its abundant economic potentials with the on-going implementation of the Songwe Geothermal Power and Direct Use Project.
The $32-million geothermal power project at Majimoto Village in Mbozi District is expected to generate between 5MW and 38MW when completed in 2023.
Before the power generation starts in 2023, the Tanzania Geothermal Development Corporation (TGDC) has introduced direct use potentials including the geothermal tourism, drying crops, green house, fishing and poultry farming.
Songwe regional commissioner Brigadier General Nicodemus Mwangela said the regional office is currently improving road infrastructures while attracting investors in various economic potentials surrounding the project.
“I have ordered the Tanzania Rural Road Authority (Tarura) and the project contractor and TGDC to construct a tarmac road from Nanyara Ward, about 10 kilometres, to the project area,” he told The Citizen.
The region, according to him, is also conducting awareness campaigns to attract investors and traders from inside and outside the region.
“I have been holding meetings with business-minded people on the available opportunities. I will also, personally, take some investors to the sites and show them potentials we have,” he said over the phone.
The RC said investors in the areas of entertainment, food and drink vendors were invited to the area.
Mbozi district commissioner John Palingo said his role was to create conducive environment for business and investment that would attract investors and traders as well as awareness creation to residents.
“We are ready for the project and I’m responsible to publicise it to residents and the world,” he said.
TGDC’s general manager Kato Kabaka said geothermal power generation from both Songwe and Lake Ngozi geothermal projects is expected to commence in 2023.
“We have already hired an Italian consultancy company, ELC Electroconsult S.P.A that are charged with managing exploration activities. The company’s job will be to design a drilling programme, preparing a feasibility studies of roads, water and electricity infrastructure as well as giving specifications of the drilling machines that the government will procure after finding eligible drilling firm,” he said.
So far, the projects are at drilling level, but we are still waiting for drilling machines whose procurement was completed by TGDC since last year.
Mr Kabaka said before starting generating electricity, TGDC has started using geothermal for poultry farming and tourism purposes.
Geothermal resources are often discovered under certain land features such as hot springs, fumaroles, mud pool, geysers, silica sinter terrace, geothermal grasses, steam vents which play a substantial role in human societies and tourism attractions.
TGDC’s planning and projects manager Shakiru Kajugus told The Citizen that they have started constructing tourism attractions at the site.
“Our vision is to make geothermal water and the site being tourism products. People may visit and engage in sightseeing, healthy, educational and swimming tourism,” she noted.
The corporation has constructed a Sh3.5 million swimming pool, comprising of the geothermal and mineral waters for bathing that provide health benefits.
“The mineral composition of geothermal waters, especially silica, has been proven to have considerable healing effects for psoriasis skin disease getting rid of stresses, relaxation, body and mind revitalization,, musculoskeletal effects and socialization,” he said.
The facility’s capacity is hosting eight people for bathing and swimming at once, according to him. It is a successful pilot project which convinced the TGDC to construct a large geothermal heated pools, natural spas or natural springs for making tourism and ecotourism sustainable.
Mr Kajugusi said the TGDC has started constructing the Sh12 million spas at the site with capacity of hosting up to 20 people at once.
“We take hot water from geothermal rocks with high temperatures ranging between 70 degrees centigrade to 90 degrees centigrade and cool them to a minimum temperature of between 38 degrees centigrade and 45 degrees centigrade to suit body temperature,” he said.
RC Mwangela said tourism has been there even before the geothermal project, but it is time to make expand and ensure the region and the country reap multiple benefits.
He added that people had desired to experience the untouched natural areas for sightseeing, taking unique photos, scientific or educational activities as well as curiosity and the ambition to see something unusual.
“People wanted to see the natural hot water and touch them. However, it was not popular and the road infrastructure was not friendly,” he said, adding his responsibility was now to construct a large geothermal swimming pools and dams, hotels, bars and other attractions.
Geothermal hot water can replace electricity energy to incubate chicks and improve the poultry sector in the hosting village, district, the region and the nation at large.
TGDC created the geothermal incubating machine as a pilot study, incubating 110 chicks within 21 and 28 days.
“Using the geothermal energy in incubation, saves up to 90 percent costs compared to electricity, leading to cheap price of the chicks in the market,” said Mr Kajugus. According to him, the piloted machine cost Sh7.5 million and it took two months to be completed.
TGDC’s dream is to incubate 100,000 eggs at once within 21 and 28 days and sell chicks to residents as well as selling the technology to entrepreneurs.
Statistics show that the existing geothermal reserves in the country are capable of generating over 5000MW in the next 10 years.
Mbeya and Songwe regions alone, we have projects that can generate more than 165 MW of geothermal while others are Natron (Arusha), Luhoi (Coast) and Kiejo Mbaka (Mbeya), Lake Ngozi (Rukwa).