DAR ES SALAAM, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania on Wednesday made advance payment of about 309 million U.S. dollars to an Egyptian company for the construction of the 2,115MW Stiegler's Gorge hydroelectric project.
Doto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, handed over a check for the amount to representatives of Egyptian state-owned Arab Contractors.
The payment was part of an estimated cost of 3 billion dollars to be whole funded by the government of Tanzania, James told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
Last week, Tanzania's CRDB Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa signed a 737.5 million dollars bank guarantee to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) for the implementation of the mega hydropower project.
The project will be implemented for 36 months on a joint venture between Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric Company, said James.
In May 2018, Tanzania's government budget proposal contained an allocation of 307 million U.S. dollars for the construction of the project.
The government of Tanzania signed 3 billion dollars landmark deal with Arab contractors on December 12, 2018.
The signing of the deal was witnessed by President John Magufuli and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in the business capital Dar es Salaam.
Speaking shortly after the agreement was signed, President Magufuli reiterated his dismissal of environmental concerns, saying the project will instead be eco-friendly.
He said only a tiny fraction of the Selous Game Reserve, a world heritage site, would be used to build the proposed hydropower dam.
Magufuli said 15-percent of the money to be paid to the contractor was already available. He said hydropower was cheaper than any other kind of energy sources.
Magufuli said the project will generate 2,115 megawatts which was more than all electricity generated from all other sources in the east African country which currently stood at 1,602 megawatts.
For his part, the Egyptian Prime Minister said the project was a symbol of his country's commitment to supporting Tanzania in development.
The project has attracted intense scrutiny with conservationists both at home and abroad calling for a comprehensive strategic environmental assessment before it is implemented in the Selous Game Reserve.