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Thursday, 15 December 2011 22:00

MCC Generates Electricity, Economic Growth

WASHINGTON, 15 December 2011 (State Department) - A reliable electrical supply can provide a better future and a path out of poverty. Two American firms are helping make that a reality for low-income Tanzanians through contracts with the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).


Symbion Power and Pike Electric won contracts valued at $47.7 million and $17.9 million respectively in September 2010 as part of MCC's compact with the government of Tanzania. The companies were chosen through a competitive bidding process to install power lines in six of the country's 26 regions.


The project is improving the availability and quality of electricity by adding a 100-megawatt submarine electric transmission cable from mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar and rehabilitating about 3,000 kilometers of transmission and distribution lines. A joint venture between Symbion and Alstom Grid also won a $45 million contract in August 2010 to rehabilitate and expand transmission and distribution substations.


"In the 13 years since I first started working in Africa, including over five years with MCC, this is one of the most impressive initiatives that I have been associated with," said Matthew Kavanagh, MCC's deputy resident country director for Tanzania, in a December 8 MCC press release.


"It is also exactly the kind of partnership with the private sector -- especially the U.S. private sector -- that MCC is focused on creating."


MCC's five-year, $698 million compact with Tanzania primarily targets the nation's poor infrastructure, including $206 million to rehabilitate and expand the nation's power grid. More than 1.5 million people are expected to benefit over 20 years, increasing incomes by an estimated $934 million.



A reliable power supply is a prerequisite to business investment, both local and international. It lets businesses spend less on generators and fuel and focus on their core business: producing goods and services. MCC's investments are expected to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages in Tanzania by 15 percent.


Fewer than one in five Tanzanian households are connected to the electrical grid, which experiences frequent blackouts and power surges. Connecting households to a reliable grid creates environmental and social benefits, reducing the need for generators that spew diesel exhaust and for families to burn kerosene, charcoal or other fossil fuels inside their home for cooking. Schools with reliable electricity supplies can focus more on technology in their curriculum, and students can spend more time studying at night.



Symbion and Pike are committed to helping Tanzania improve its electrical system in the long term by investing in the skills of Tanzanian workers.


Earlier in 2011, they used their own corporate social responsibility funds to send three senior Tanzanian workers to the Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, Idaho. In a two-month program, the workers learned about electrical systems, accident prevention and construction methods -- skills they will use to train others in Tanzania.


To transfer such skills sustainably, the two companies established a training facility in Morogoro, where they have trained more than 200 Tanzanians, many of whom are expected to work on the MCC-funded projects. By training local technicians, the two companies expect to create a cadre of highly capable Tanzanians to work on future projects. (END)


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