Rural Electrification: Tanzania’s unrivalled success

BENJAMIN Mikael, a carpenter at Busondo Village in Nzega District, Tabora region plans to expand his workshop after buying an electric machine for woodworking.

He is optimistic of earning more income from timber works after his village was connected to electricity through a rural electrification project.

“After electricity was connected to our in the village, we’re now using electrical machines and our work has become easier and we’re making more money,” said Mikael at his carpentry workshop.

Mikael is one among millions of Tanzanians in rural areas who benefit from a rural electrification programme that is helping reduce poverty and improve rural livelihood.

The government set a target to connect all villages with electricity by December, this year.

By mid-this month 3,541 villages had remained out of 12,345 to meet the target in rural electrification as part of the government’s efforts to trigger economic growth on a micro level.

According to Rural Energy Agency (REA), Director General, Hassan Said, the authority had connected 8,804 villages with electricity by mid-August, which is equivalent to 71.3 per cent.

The work continues despite the Covid-19 global pandemic and the Russia- Ukraine war that have disrupted the global supply system, he said.

The war in Ukraine triggered particularly severe disruptions to global markets for critical raw materials from Russia, the third largest exporter of copper wire used in household electrification, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) statistics.

Nevertheless, REA is expected to complete power connecting to all villages by 100 per cent in the country even before 2030, he said.

“The work of connecting electricity to the remaining villages is in progress, as you are all aware the Covid -19 pandemic affected supplies of key materials and equipment needed for the project, but the situation has started to improve,” he said in an interview with a local television station.

REA has connected electricity to approximately 27,000 hamlets so far out of 67,000 across the country where he added that it has already prepared a five-year plan that will cost a total of 6.5 tri/- to reach all hamlets across the country.

The Minister for Energy, January Makamba said in Parliament in June that the government is preparing a Hamlet Electrification Project – HEP project to connect all hamlets with electricity.

The project is expected to cost 6.5tri/- and the government has set aside 140bn/- in this financial year for identification of the scope of the project and to begin the work in phases, said the minister.

Tanzania has 64,760 hamlets and 37,610 had not yet been connected with electricity, he said.

Rural electrification improves individual quality of life, facilitates community services such as health and education and enables business entities to carry out their activities for rural populations.

Students are looking forward to performing better in examinations as they get more time to study.

Singulenge Jinasa, a student at Itumba Secondary School in Tabora said after their school was connected with electricity, students now hace more time to study.

“Electricity brought great benefits to us students because before we were connected to electricity, the issue of studying was only during the day, but now we can study even at night”

Others, like Abdallah Kombo, a resident of Vianzi -Mkuranga District switched to a more profitable activity after a power connection in his village.

He has opened a welding workshop at the village and employed seven young people as his assistants.

“Before we were connected to electricity, we did not have welding services in this area, when someone needed the services, had to travel a long distance and it was expensive.”

He added that previously in construction issues, people used to depend a lot on wood but they have recently turned to metal…now we make doors, gates, and windows along with other metal products by using a welding machine.

REA Director of Technical Services, Eng Jones Olotu said the agency rural electrification was a real game changer with immediate results obtained in poverty reduction, improvement of rural livelihood and economic development.

Tanzanians in rural areas make up 64 per cent of the total population.

Rural population per cent of the total population in Tanzania was reported at 64.05 per cent in 2021, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.

“We have conducted several impact assessment studies to see how the REA project changes the lives of people in the villages that have been connected to power…all reports show there is a massive improvement in economic growth…. currently we have reached 25 per cent of it.”

The accessibility of electricity in rural areas has enabled many young people in the country to afford the cost of living and increased income among them.

On her part, REA Director of Marketing Development and Technologies, Eng Advera Mwijage said that REA’s plan is not only to connect electricity to the rural areas but also has the responsibility to supply other forms of energy such as solar, Biogas, Geothermal Energies.

Moreover, she noted that as FYDP III intervened in strengthening natural gas supply infrastructures for domestic, industrial and transport use; REA and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) planned to start supplying the energy to three regions passed by the gas pipeline.

“In December we have planned to start supplying the energy to three regions passed by the gas pipeline including Lindi, Mtwara and Coast regions and we will start with 1000 households,” Eng Mwijage said.

REA became operational in October 2007 with the vision of transforming rural livelihoods through the provision of modern energy services.

Rural electrification is among priorities in the 2022/23 government budget in implementation of the Third National Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP III) for 2021/22 – 2025/26, the national development vision for 2025 and the ruling CCM election manifesto.

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