Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MSIMBATI (MTWARA), RICH ON NATURAL GAS BUT THEY USE OIL LAMPS


by Finnigan wa Simbeye

It’s evening at Msimbati village of Mtwara rural district and oil lamps can been seen all over the place. A few well off families use electric charged lamps. The majority of villagers here live below the poverty line, even by Tanzanian standards.

Their grass thatched mud huts, substandard clothing and bushy coconut and cashew-nut farms are testimony that poverty is prevalent here, income poverty but not wealth provided by nature. Like many other Tanzanian villagers in Mara, Mwanza, Arusha, Shinyanga, Kigoma and elsewhere in the country, they sit on a mine of natural gas worth trillions of shillings.

Canadian Artumas Group which has been extracting natural gas at Mnazi Bay at Msimbati, estimates that there are over 10 million cubic metres of gas underneath the territory of this village, a commodity which is already generating 7.5 megawatts of electricity supplying most parts of Mtwara region and part of Lindi region.

Msimbati village is not lucky enough to get a fair share of this electricity and plans to ensure that this small village enjoys part of its prized resource, seem to be far off by government agents. Meanwhile efforts are being made by French group, Morel & Prom to build thousands of kilometers of pipeline to ship gas as far as Mombasa in Kenya while residents of Msimbati remain ignored.

Private investors won’t supply free power to impoverished consumers like those at Msimbati but government has an obligation to do so by using our tax money. This understanding amongst our thieving politicians and corrupt bureaucrats, seem to be farfetched.

I was told a 22mn EUR project funded by Dutch government to help Artumas connect over 45,000 homes to its power supply lines between 2008 and this year, was withdrawn by Amsterdam earlier this year, because of bureaucracy in undertaking reforms by the government.

In fact, several officials both in public and private establishments told me that, a clique of politicians and bureaucrats who wanted to cash in on the project through kick backs from private companies involved in the project, derailed it after failing to get a penny.

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