Egyptian firms to build $3bn power plant on Tanzanian world heritage site

Updated 12 December 2018
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Egyptian firms to build $3bn power plant on Tanzanian world heritage site

  • Arab Contractors and El Sewedy to build plant
  • Plan triggers protests from environmentalists

DAR ES SALAAM: Tanzania has signed a deal with Egypt’s El Sewedy Electric and Arab Contractors to build a $3 billion hydroelectric plant on a World Heritage site in the country, that will more than double Tanzania’s power generation capacity.
The project has faced opposition from conservationists, who say the construction of a dam on a river that runs through the Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, known for its elephants, black rhinos and giraffes, as well as many other species, could affect the wildlife and their habitats.
Energy Minister Medard Kalemani, said in comments broadcast on state television on Wednesday that the plant would have an installed capacity of 2,115 megawatts, calling it “a very huge dam project.”
Representatives of state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Co, El Sewedy and Arab Contractors signed the agreement in the presence of President John Magufuli and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, TV broadcasts showed.
Magufuli said the project will be wholly funded from taxes. Monthly tax revenue collection has increased from 850 billion shillings ($370.37 million) per month before he came to power in late 2015, to an average of 1.3 trillion shillings ($566.45 million)under his administration, he said.
“When we asked for financing for this project, the lenders refused to give us money but thanks to improved tax collection, we are able to finance this project using our own resources,” he said.
Arab Contractors will have a 55 percent stake in the project and El Sewedy 45 percent, El Sewedy said on Tuesday.
El Sewedy said the Egyptian stock market had halted trading of its shares pending details on the deal it had signed.
Covering 50,000 square kilometers, the Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, according to UNESCO.
The World Wildlife Fund conservation group said in a report in July last year the proposed hydropower dam “puts protected areas of global importance, as well as the livelihoods of over 200,000 people who depend upon the environment, at risk.”
Officials at the WWF Tanzania office were not immediately available to comment on Wednesday’s deal.
Magufuli dispelled the environmental concerns, saying Tanzania had allocated 32.5 percent of its total land mass to conservation.
“The dam will become a major source of water and the cheap electricity to be produced from the dam will reduce the number of people who cut trees for firewood,” he said.
Magufuli, nicknamed “the bulldozer,” for his forceful leadership style, has in the past pushed for the project to start as quickly as possible to speed up development.
He has introduced anti-corruption measures and tough economic reforms and pushed for swift completion of big infrastructure projects including roads, railways and airports.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 16 January 2019
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Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants at particular risk, says expert
  • Report finds that unemployment is a major concern in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.