DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has agreed to to a request by his Ugandan counterpart, president Yoweri Museveni, to supply gas to Uganda for an iron smelting project there.

President Museveni had appealed to president Magufuli to consider constructing a gas pipeline from Tanzania to Uganda along the same route as the crude oil pipeline from the oilfields in Hoima on the shores of Lake Albert in werstern Uganda to the port of Tanga in northern Tanzania, whose construction was launched over the weekend.

Museveni said Uganda had discovered a huge iron ore reserve, but could not mine the resource for lack of coal or gas for smelting. Speaking at Chongoleani village near Tanga during the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the 1,445-kilometre oil pipeline, Dr Magufuli assured his guest that Tanzania would use the same route to supply gas to Uganda.

Uganda needs natural gas to revive her industries and thus we will use the same route to have another pipeline to sell the energy to Uganda, President Magufuli said during Saturday's ceremony.

President Museveni hailed the government of Tanzania for scrapping taxes on all imported materials to be used in undertaking the 3.5 billion US dollars pipeline project, the largest private sector-funded initiative in the East Africa sub-region.

Dr Magufuli disclosed that Tanzania had offered the initiative as a way of encouraging the Ugandan government to use Tanga Port in a deal in which each barrel of crude oil transported will be charged 12.5 USD. We had to sacrifice a few things to encourage Uganda to transport its crude oil through Tanzania since it had other alternatives, Magufuli stated during the foundation stone-laying ceremony.

Tanzania currently operates 532-km and 232-km pipelines which transport natural gas from Mnazi Bay in Mtwara and Songo Songo Islands in Lindi to the country's commercial capital of Dar-es-Salaam, where the energy is used for power generation, running of industries and as cooking fuel in a number of few piloted areas.

So far, Tanzania boasts of roughly 53 trillion cubic feet of discovered natural gas offshore and onshore in Lindi, Mtwara and Coast Regions (provinces), with just a small fraction being used for power generation, running of industries and cooking.

Tanzania and Zambia also operate a pipeline transporting imported crude oil from Dar-es-Salaam port to Zambia which was constructed during the rule of founding Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere.