Tanzania Welcomes First Wind Farm

Tanzania’s province of Singida is as remote as it is windy. 

That’s why IFC and our partners Aldwych International and Six Telecoms are working together to develop the country’s first wind farm there. 

The goal: generate 100 megawatts of electricity through wind turbines, supply it at affordable prices, and diversify Tanzania’s energy mix towards greener power.

While Singida is Tanzania’s first wind project, it may not be the last. Only 38 percent of Tanzania is electrified, with demand for electricity growing nearly 15 percent per year. The country’s vast water and gas reserves will continue to provide the bulk of power, but Tanzania seeks to wean its electricity away from aging, unreliable hydropower plants. Private initiatives like Singida are another step towards filling the power gap.

"Singida will add much-needed power to the national grid, as well as bring investment and economic opportunities to the country,” said the Vice President of Tanzania Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the wind farm. “By tapping into wind energy, we can take advantage of the complementarities between wind and hydropower—wind blows strongest in the dry season, and can generate power whilst water in hydro-reservoirs is preserved."

Privately owned by the project company, Wind East Africa, Singida is now negotiating a contract to sell its power to Tanzania’s national power utility, Tanesco. This is the first wind project that Tanesco will connect to its grid—and it is a win for both the consumer and the environment. Singida will provide Tanesco with clean power at stable costs, as tariffs for wind energy, which uses no fuel source, remain relatively constant.

“It is important for Tanesco to quickly conclude the power purchase negotiations. Once we connect Singida to the grid, we hope other renewable energy projects will follow,” said Mr. Nanyaro, the representative of Tanesco.

Singida has broken ground, but the journey to this point was challenging. To develop Tanzania’s first ever wind farm, IFC and partners had to run technical studies on winds, the grid, power flow, load, and other factors previously not reviewed in this region.

“It has taken the developers tenacity and dedication to get this project off ground,” reflected Vice President Bilal.

Singida also required significant financial and technical resources from private investors. The wind farm will cost $285 million, of which IFC, Aldwych, and Six Telecoms are contributing $18 million during the development stage with another $71 million in equity to come later. Along with investing, IFC will advise Singida’s management on environmental and social best practices.

IFC is financing this project through InfraVentures, a fund that supports early-stage infrastructure projects in developing countries with start-up equity and co-development. A leading financer of green energy, IFC has invested more than $3 billion in renewables over the last five years, including 40 wind projects Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe.  

Singida is expected to start operating by December 2017. It will provide not only a stable, inexpensive source of power, but also, a blueprint to wind developers eyeing Tanzania.

October 2015