How Zanzibar is getting closer to electrifying all its villages

ZANZIBAR: KHADIJA Ali Ahmed, 43, recently managed to connect her house to the national grid for electricity from Tanzania mainland. She is celebrating this milestone as it allows her to run her small businesses more efficiently.

Ms Ahmed bakes bread and makes ice cream to sell, providing income to support her family and cover her chil- dren’s school expenses.

“Although the power is unstable and frequently gets disconnected, I am happy to have access to electricity,” she said.

Abubakar Kombo Haji, who runs a small processing factory for seaweed in Pemba, agrees that electricity is crucial for business development and the progress of the country.

According to the Minister of Water, Energy and Minerals, Shaib Hassan Kaduara, the government is fully committed to connecting all villages to the electricity supply by 2025 because power is the backbone of the economy.

He stated that the Zanzibar Electricity Company (ZECO) has been assigned the task of connecting all houses and buildings to power.

Analysts argue that access to electricity facilitates sustainable economic and social growth, improves productivity and efficiency, and enhances education as students can use it for studying.

In his recent speech celebrating the 60th anniversary of the revolution, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi emphasised that every phase of the government since the revolution has made efforts to improve access to electricity for citizens.

“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Revolution and three years of the Eighth Phase Government, we have made significant progress in improving access to electricity in the country. We are on track to achieve our goals.”He said.

President Mwinyi mentioned that in order to ensure easy access to electricity services, the government has reduced the price of connecting to electricity by an aver- age of 50 percent.

The cost for framing not exceeding 30 meters has been reduced from 464,000/- to 200,000/-, the cost for placing one electric- ity pole has been reduced from 1.7m/- to 690,000/-, and the cost for two poles has been re- duced from 2.6m/- to 1.04m/-.

“This move has led to a significant increase in the number of customers requesting electricity connection, from an average of 50 customers per day to an average of 200 customers per day.” The president stated.

He also highlighted that ZECO has successfully connected electricity to 93,124 customers (households and business buildings) in both Unguja and Pemba, represent- ing a 45 percent increase in customers over the past three years.

President Mwinyi further mentioned that the government has made progress in rural electricity distribution, connecting electricity to a to tal of 190 villages, with 116 in Unguja and 74 in Pemba. This achievement fulfills 62 percent of the 305 villages as directed in the CCM Election 2020/2025 manifesto.

To further enhance electricity production in Zanzibar, the government has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Generation Capital Company Ltd to invest in solar energy and build a plant capable of producing 130 megawatts.

Additionally, an agreement has been signed with the German ESR Compa- ny to produce 15 megawatts of solar electricity for the island of Pemba.

President Mwinyi also mentioned that the government is collaborating with consultants from the American NOVAVIS INTERNATIONAL Company to conduct a feasi- bility study and find solutions to the challenge of low electricity in certain areas of the country.

The WSP Company of Canada is conducting a feasibility study for the construction of a large 132 kilowatt line in the South and North Pemba Region, with funding from AfDB, KOICA, and the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO).

Sustainable Development Goal 7 calls for affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. According to the United Nations (UN), Goal 7 aims to ensure access to clean and affordable energy, which is crucial for the development of agriculture, business, communications, education, healthcare, and transportation.

The UN states that while the world is making progress towards sustainable energy targets, it is not happening fast enough. By 2030, approximately 660 million people will still lack access to electricity, and close to 2 billion people will continue to rely on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking.

Reliable and affordable energy is essential for our daily lives, but energy consumption is also a major contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of global green house gas emissions.

Expanding infrastructure and adopting clean energy sources in developing countries is a crucial goal that can promote growth while protecting the environment.

From 2015 to 2021, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity has increased from 87 percent to 91 percent. Ensuring universal access to affordable electricity by 2030 requires investment in clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and thermal power.

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