Tanzania presidency hopeful plans to-fix LNG land issues if elected - CNBC Africa

Tanzania presidency hopeful plans to-fix LNG land issues if elected

East Africa

by Edmund Blair 0

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A government led by Tanzania's John Magufuli, if his election victory is confirmed, would within "a few weeks" remove impediments related to the site of a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and other issues, a close aide said on Tuesday.

Pre-election polls forecast a win by Magufuli, whose CCM party has been in power for half a century. CCM campaign director January Makamba said the party's count from its representatives at polling stations suggested Magufuli would win about 60 percent of the presidential vote.

The opposition has disputed the ruling party's claims. Final results from Sunday's vote are not expected until Thursday.

Magufuli has promised more urgency in decision-making, responding to a frequent complaint from businesses. One example has been delays in finalising a site for the multi-billion dollar LNG plant that will exploit huge offshore gas finds.

"We know that it is a competition. If the neighbouring country Mozambique gets its own (plant) running, ours will not be viable," Makamba told Reuters, adding that any official impediments would be resolved "after a few weeks" in office.

"It will change the landscape of Tanzania’s economy," said Makamba, noting there had been issues related to ownership and transfer of land for the plant expected to be sited around Lindi, south of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania has allocated funds for the land purchase. [ID:nL1N0Y0092]

"There are some things that can be sorted out by government immediately," Makamba said by telephone.

BG Group, being acquired by Royal Dutch Shell, with Statoil, Exxon Mobil and Ophir Energy plan to build the LNG export terminal, with the aim of starting up in the early 2020s.

But their final investment decision has in part been held up by delays in finalising issues related to the site.

Mozambique's plans to build an LNG plant have moved more swiftly. With other LNG projects moving ahead around the world, the best deals for long term gas sales contracts will likely be secured by those who come on stream first, analysts say.

Tanzania could add 2 percentage points to existing annual growth of 7 percent simply by starting work on the huge plant that would draw in billions of dollars of investment, a senior Tanzanian central bank official told Reuters last month.

Makamba said Magufuli would also press on with other major projects, such as improving rail links with central African neighbours and expanding light manufacturing in Tanzania.

(Editing by Alison Williams)