The project is part of an overall US$698.1 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact signed in 2008 between the governments of Tanzania and the United States.
Zanzibar President Mohammed Shein and US Ambassador in Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt on Wednesday witnessed the start of the project that will more than double the maximum capacity of the current cable being replaced.
Representatives of Viscas Corporation and the MCC-Tanzania in April 2010 signed the contract to manufacture, deliver, and install this new state-of-the-art submarine power cable.
According to the US Embassy, the cable has been delivered on time.
“Every Zanzibari realises the importance of an adequate and reliable power supply for this island. It is not only an essential foundation for economic growth and prosperity; it is fundamental to the very health and well-being of every resident of Zanzibar,” Lenhardt said at the cable laying ceremony.
“Power is needed to light schools as well as businesses. Power is needed to keep the equipment and operating theatres in hospitals running. And power is needed to run the pumps that supply drinking water necessary for life itself,” he said.
The submarine cable will make its landfall at Mtoni in Zanzibar, where a new substation is under construction by two American firms, Alstom Grid and Symbion Power. From there electricity will be distributed throughout Unguja (the main island of Zanzibar).
In addition to the Zanzibar Interconnector Project, MCC is also financing the upgrade of 35 km of rural roads on the northern smaller island of Pemba.
The project is one of several important energy sector activities underway as part of the Compact, including technical assistance to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) and Zanzibar Electricity Company (ZECO) to reduce power losses and improve their efficiency.