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Mtwara – Dar Es Salaam gas pipeline, Tanzania


Tanzania signed a contract with three Chinese companies on 21 July 2012 to start construction of a 512-km pipeline leading from Mtwara to the country's capital Dar es Salaam. The project is financed by a Chinese loan as well as grants from the World Bank (USD 300 million) and the African Development Bank (USD 200 million).

Initially, there were plans to build a gas processing plant in the city of Mtwara.

The catalyst for the protests that emerged was the announcement of the government's decision to construct a gas pipeline leading from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam instead of a gas processing plant situated directly in Mtwara. Earlier during the planning phase of the project, promises were made that such a processing site would boost local development.

On 27 December 2012, thousands of residents from Mtwara undertook a 10 km march protesting the pipeline construction plans. Other demonstrations soon followed. A legislative member and lawyer, stated to the press: "I don’t believe the country is ready to implement the existing systems and laws that will effectively protect our coastal environments. Tanzania stands already vulnerable and ready to lose its once glorious and bountiful coastline, which is a major tourist attraction both above and under water".

During the January 2013 protests, around 44 people were arrested in connection with the violence and riots that occurred. When the protesters clashed with police at the end of January, 4 people were killed and 12 more were injured. Houses of senior politicians were said to have been burnt during the protest. On 27 January 2013, protesters reportedly destroyed more than 10 vehicles of the Masasi District Council, set fire to a court building as well as the district education office and several local officials' personal homes.

On 22 May 2013, street battles and protests erupted again in Mtwara, when residents were not satisfied with the government's handling of mineral resource wealth and the contracts signed for the pipeline project. Police and army forces used teargas and live rounds to shut down the unrest in the towns of Mtwara and Mikindani. The country's opposition parties have been calling for greater transparency over the natural resource extraction contracts the government has concluded with foreign companies. They demanded to make public all of the contracts signed with foreign government, especially with regards to the construction of the Mtwara – Dar Es Salaam pipeline funded by discounted loans from Chinese government investors. During the May 2013 protests, 90 people were arrested and one person was killed. The Home Affairs Minister also stated that several houses and other property had been damaged as well. Police forces broke up the riots with teargas before making sweeping arrests. Army forces had also been deployed to settle the unrest and when one of the vehicles transporting them to the site got in an accident, four soldiers were killed.

In reaction to the protests, President Jakaya Kikwete issued a strong statement on 22 May 2013, saying that it was unacceptable to call for a stop of the construction of the pipeline. He also affirmed his belief that it “is something unacceptable that national resources can be restricted only to the place where they are found”. He made instructions to security forces to search and arrest everyone involved in the violence.

The president also reaffirmed the government's earlier promises to build 57 factories in the region in order to tackle unemployment in exchange for the gas processing plant which was not built in Mtwara.

The construction of the pipeline was completed by begining of 2015 and in test started in July 2015. In these circumstances, Reuters has announced that "discoveries off east Africa's seaboard have led to predictions the region could become the world's third-largest exporter of natural gas".

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Mtwara – Dar Es Salaam gas pipeline, Tanzania
State or province:Mtwara region
Location of conflict:Mtwara
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to information provided by the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), the pipeline will have a capacity to transport around 22,2 million cubic meters of gas per day, generating 3,920 MW of electricity. The pipeline will include a 512 km pipeline on land in addition to a 30 km concrete-coated pipe running through the Indian Ocean from Songo Songo Island to Somanga area.

Project area:Approx. 54,200 hectares
Level of Investment:USD 1,200,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:27/12/2007
End of the conflict:31/05/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited
Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC)
Relevant government actors:Tanzania Ministry of Energy and Minerals
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
African Development Bank (AfDB)
Export-Import Bank of China from China
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (USAID) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:World Wildlife Fund Norway
World Wildlife Fund Tanzania
Mrengo - Mtwara NGO Network

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Local residents urged the Tanzanian government to build a gas processing facility within the Mtwara region instead of the pipeline to the capital, as initially planned. They were convinced that this would have boosted the local economy.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:During the protests, at least 5 people were killed and at least another 12 were injured. Over 134 people have been arrested in relation to the protests and marches. Despite the opposition to the project, the Tanzanian government went ahead with the construction of the pipeline. By July 2015, tests were conducted on the finished pipeline.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2014), Tanzania, Country Analysis Note,

Natural Gas Conflict in Tanzania and the Impacts to the Population in Mtwara, Marcelin Raphael Ndimbwa

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Tanzania says work on China-funded gas pipeline to continue, Reuters, 25 May 2013,

Mtwara commissioner announces communication plan, 4 February 2013, Sabahi Online,

Protest over gas pipeline in Mtwara turn violent, military deployed, by Deodatus Balile, Sabahi Online, 23 May 2013,

Tanzania police arrest 90 after Mtwara gas pipeline protest, by AFP, The East African, 23 May 2013,

Tanzania Mtwara gas riots: 'Pregnant woman killed', BBC News Africa, 24 May 2013,

The Untold Story of Tanzania's Resource Curse, by Rober Ahearne, Think Africa Press, 31 May 2013,

Tanzania battles deadly protest over billion-dollar gas project, by The Citizen, Africa Review, 28 January 2013,

Tanzania on threshold to gas economy

Tanzania: Reserving Judgement On Tanzania's Natural Gas Discoveries

The Mtwara–Dar-es–salaam gas pipeline debate needs to include environmental issues, Mohamed Matope

A Leaked Document Casts A Shadow Over Tanzania's Bright Gas Extraction Outlook, by Pernille Baerendtsen, Global Voices, 20 July 2014,

Protest over Mtwara gas pipeline leave 4 dead, 12 injured, Sabahi Online, 28 January 2013,

Tanzania embarks on major gas pipeline project, by Deodatus Balile, Sabahi Online, 26 July 2012,

Tanzania to start tests on 542km long new Mtwara-Dar gas pipeline

Tanzanian gas pipeline plan sparks riot -government officials

Tanzanian pipeline construction inaugurated, Pipelines International, September 2012,

No. 01: Mtwara – Dar Gas Pipeline Construction, Pesa Times, 3 January 2013,

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Pictures at: Tanzania Mtwara gas riots: 'Pregnant woman killed', BBC News Africa, 24 May 2013,

Meta information

Last update19/09/2015



Existing and proposed pipeline