UPDATE 1-Tanzania suffers national power outage after technical fault-supply company

(Updates with context, quotes)

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Tanzania was hit by a country-wide blackout early on Thursday due to a technical glitch in its national power grid, the country’s state-run electricity monopoly said.

“A technical fault ... caused all regions connected to the national power grid to lose electricity supply,” the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) said in a statement.

The outage occurred at around 04:00 GMT on Thursday, and it was still trying to fix the fault, the company said.

Partial blackouts occur regularly in Tanzania, which relies on hydro, natural gas and heavy fuel oil to generate electricity. Many businesses use power generators as backups, pushing up their operating costs.

Tanzania invited bids in August to build a 2,100-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site renowned for its animal population, despite opposition from conservationists to the long-delayed project.

Tanzanian president John Magufuli is personally backing the project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve and sees it as vital to diversify Tanzania’s energy mix and end chronic electricity shortages. The project would more than double the country’s current power generation capacity of around 1,500MW. The government did not say how much the project would cost and how it would raise financing, but wants it completed within three years.

Tanzania’s energy infrastructure has suffered from decades of underinvestment, neglect and corruption allegations, and investors have long complained that the lack of reliable power hurts business in East Africa’s third biggest economy. (reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; editing by Katharine Houreld and William Maclean)