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‘Affordable power charges coming soon’

HIGH power tariff is likely to become history should the government complete all major power projects on progress, Energy Minister Medard Kalemani affirmed here over the weekend.

Officiating at the Ministry of Energy workers’ council, the minister said the power tariff is expected to drop in the near future, describing the current charges as high because the national power utility procures at exorbitant rates.

Dr Kalemani said for the past three years, the country has recorded tremendous success in energy sector by embarking on major energy projects meant to address challenges related to the country’s industrial drive.

“We are executing major power projects like Rufiji Hydro, Rusumo and Kinyerezi among others…upon their completion, we will have the best power tariff in the region,” assured Dr Kalemani.

He told the workers that in the past three years, Tanzania has been on world record as far as power projects are concerned, being one of few nations that have dared to invest in the sub-sector.

He attributed the successes to President John Magufuli who dared to invest in power projects to bring changes in the sector, adding that much as the government wants to make power blackout something of the past, it wants prices to drop as well to attract investments.

Outlining some of the successes in the past three years, Dr Kalemani said since independence only 2,018 villages in the Mainland had power but currently 7,012 villages are electrified countrywide.

“That means within three years over 5,000 villages were connected, we need to ensure that we cover the remaining villages within short period and that can be attained if you—workers— play your part well,” he insisted.

He said the government remains committed to its rural electrification project, saying in 2015 only 2,000 villages had access to power but the number rose to 4,000 villages in 2018 and as of last week, 7,012 villages had power.

The minister said Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) is connecting industries with natural gas, with a number of factories in Dar es Salaam already enjoying the service for increased productivity and national growth.

“We are putting a lot of weight in the energy for as you can recall, in the past three years power blackout was an order of the day…we are striving to make blackout in the country history,” he said.

The minister told workers that the government is proud of Rufiji Hydro Power project, which is the 60th among 70 major hydro projects globally, the fourth in Africa and the first in East Africa.

He said few areas—Sumbawanga, Mpanda and Kigoma— remains without connection to the national grid, but strategies are underway to connect them.

The minister decried outdated infrastructures as serious challenges, saying the current system has been in use before independence and is subjecting Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) to power cut blames.

He said already funds have been requested for infrastructure improvement. Giving plans on natural gas for domestic use, he said TPDC has started with Dar es Salaam whose use of charcoal is almost 90 per cent.

“We have decided to start with Dar es Salaam to conserve our environment and forest, gas will be sold at reduced price, we have directed TPDC to price that gas at half of the charcoal price,” he elaborated.

Dr Kalemani said TPDC has reduced by 40 per cent the gas price, which is 47 per cent less of the charcoal price. On fuel, Dr Kalemani said there is a reserve of 1.82 million litres, which can be used for 35 days.

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Author: NELLY MTEMA in Dodoma

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