Photograph — Afrizap

The Tanzania government said on Tuesday that it plans to build a long-delayed 2,100-megawatt hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site renowned for its animal populations and a variety of wildlife habitats despite opposition from environmentalists.

The East African nation considers the project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve as vital in its bid to diversify its energy mix as part of plans to end chronic energy shortages.

Covering 50,000 sq km, the reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, according to UNESCO. It is known for its elephants, black rhinoceroses and giraffes, among many other species.

President John Magufuli “wants construction of this project to start as quickly as possible and produce an abundant supply of electricity to speed up the development of the country”, his office said in a statement.

It did not give the cost of the project.

The statement said a team of experts from Ethiopia would arrive in the country this week to provide advice on its implementation.

Ethiopia has an array of hydropower projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River that will churn out 6,000 MW upon completion.

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