Israeli investor backs out of Kiwira mine project: Apparently scared off by incessant `politicking` THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam THE Ministry of Energy and Minerals has blamed 'unnecessary politicking' for the sudden halt of the 200MW power production project at Kiwira Coal Mine in Mbeya Region, which was supposed to start operations by November last year. Minister William Ngeleja disclosed in an interview with THISDAY that a certain foreign investor had initially shown willingness to pump money into the project, but has since decided that such an investment would be too risky. Although Ngeleja did not name the potential investor, THISDAY findings have established that an Israeli company was at one point all set to enter into partnership with TANPOWER Resources Limited, the controversial majority shareholder in the privatized mine. The mine management is understood to have entered into a 271m/- contract with the state-owned Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) for the supply of 200 megawatts of electricity into the national power grid. Under the terms of the contract, this power was supposed to have become available in stages from last year. However, nothing has been forthcoming so far. A spokesman for the mine told a meeting of the Mbeya Business Council early last year that work was in progress to enable the mine to start producing coal-generated electricity by the end of the year (2008). But again, this never happened. According to minister Ngeleja, the investors had begun to express doubts over the deal following the emergence of a conflict over the Kiwira coal mine ownership. ''What I can tell you is that the government has resumed negotiations with these financiers, and the aim now is to make sure the project is finalized by 2011,'' he said. There is an ongoing public debate over the fact that TANPOWER Resources is a company made up mainly of close relatives of former president Benjamin Mkapa and energy and minerals minister Daniel Yona, who were also heavily involved in the privatization of the Kiwira coal mine while still in office back in 2005. The two are also understood to have been behind the mine's takeover by TANPOWER Resources for a mere 700m/-; far less than the 4bn/- incurred by the government to build the mine in the 1980s. Contacted by telephone over the weekend, TANPOWER Resources Chief Executive Officer Francis Kabaro, told THISDAY that he had no comment on the continued delays in the Kiwira coal-to-electricity project, or the apparent withdrawal of the foreign financiers. ''I know nothing about all that, and I have nothing to say,'' Kabaro stated. In a recent public statement, TANESCO Managing Director Dr Idris Rashidi also acknowledged that the Kiwira coal-to-power project had been put on hold for the time being.