Arush Technical College (ATC) is set to become the first institution in Africa to train experts in hydro-electricity using its own mini hydro-electric plant, according to ATC Principal Dr Richard Masika.
This follows an agreement between the college and the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to enable the former to refurbish Kikuletwa hydro-plant in Kilimanjaro region and use it to train students in the field of hydro-electricity.
"We would use the plant for both training and generation of power which will be sold to Tanesco," Dr Masika said in Dar es Salaam shortly after inking the agreement with the Acting Managing Director of Tanesco, Eng. Felchesmi Mramba.
The facility has been idle since 1989 and during that time it used to generate 1.5MW but an assessment conducted recently suggests that it could produce up to 17MW, according to Dr Masika. Boasting that his college has the knowhow to design and make small-hydro power plants locally, Dr Masika said the facility will be used for short and long courses in the field of hydro-electricity.
"Such plants could be used in areas which are not connected to the national grid," he told journalists during the signing ceremony. The plant is expected to become operational by mid-2015 and it will be preceded by an evaluation to assess total investment that is required to put it back on its feet.
The evaluation is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Dr Masika said the college will cooperate with various organizations to raise funds for implementation of the project.
For his part, the Tanesco boss was happy that the college would produce engineers and technicians to run its hydro-power plants in the country. Eng. Mramba decried shortage of experts in the field and expressed optimism that those produced by the college would go a long way in bridging the shortage.