Tanzania makes strides in power production, accessibility

TANZANIA stands out to be a success story in connecting electricity to its people, currently covering over 70 percent of population in comparison to 60 years ago, when almost the country was in darkness.

As the country marks its 61st independence anniversary today, the government attributed the ongoing rural electrification project as a key driver in fast tracking connecting many Tanzanians in rural areas.

By mid-August this year, 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 connection 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 the National Assembly in June this year 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.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Eng Felchesmi Mramba, said recently that in early days after independence Tanzanians, who accessed power were only those who had worked at sisal farms and lived in houses of the Tanzania Railway Corporation.

Eng Mramba noted that six decades ago, the regions which had electricity were only Dar es Salaam and Tanga due to the operation of the railway and sisal production respectively located in them.

Access to affordable, reliable and efficient electricity supply has contributed to the increased productivity needed to generate jobs, enhance the living conditions of Tanzanian households and support the attainment of the country’s socio-economic goals.

“In the past sixty years, Tanzania has continued to increase electricity production from 17.5 megawatts before independence to 1,609.91 megawatts by September, 2021,” said Eng Mramba.

He pointed out that the peak demand in the country has reached 1,273.42 megawatts in October, 2021, whereas the total production capacity of power plants connected to the National Grid system has reached 1,573.65 megawatts. Equally, the initiatives undertaken by the government enabled 15,200 public institutions in the rural areas to acquire electricity through the REA project including 4,036 education institutions, business centres (5,053), water machines and boreholes (338), health facilities (1,296) and 1,113 religious institutions by March, 2020. 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.

Among other achievements being recorded during the past 61 years include continuing with the implementation of the 2,115 megawatts Julius Nyerere Hydro Power Project (JNHPP) whereas by November, 2022 stood at 77 per cent, the 80 megawatts Rusumo project (over 90 per cent) and the kick start of preparations for the Ruhudji 358 megawatts and Rumakali 222 megawatts among many others.

Elaborating on the issue of power outages which has been experienced recently in the various parts of the country, Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) has attributed it to various factors including drought and power distribution infrastructure.

“Basically these are the reasons which have led the power utility company failing to serve its customers to the expected level, thus raising complaints through various platforms such as social media,” TANESCO Director General Maharage Chande, told journalists in Dar es Salaam recently.

He cited the challenge of power distribution infrastructure facing Kihansi Hydroelectric Power Station, which produces up to 180MW when full of water, but currently produces an average of between 17 megawatts (MW) and 30 megawatts (MW) due to decline in water level.

The DG said besides Kihansi, Pangani Hydroelectric Station which generates 68 megawatts has been switched off leaving Mtera Power Station which produces 80 megawatts to take off with 75 megawatts.

He noted that, electricity deficit in the country per day is between 300 and 350 megawatts which has necessitated the current power rationing.

However, Mr Chande noted that the situation is expected to improve mid next month following various measures being undertaken to rectify the situation. “Power generation is expected to increase to 220MW in mid-December this year, a situation that will provide relief to the ongoing power rationing,” the DG said.

Mr Chande further said the power utility firm is currently undertaking long and short term measures to overcome the situation, citing some as improving power generating machines at Ubungo III Power Plant that is expected to add 20 megawatts to the national grid in the next two days and another 20MW in early December.

The DG further said that Kidatu Hydropower plant with capacity of generating 50MW is expected to start supplying power soon and also add to the national grid.

He added that Kinyerezi I Power Station is also expected to add 90MW by the end of this month, thus making a total of 220MW, which will be added to the system by mid-December this year.

The DG further noted that the situation will further improve come January next year where another 90MW will be added to the national grid.

On a long term plan, he said that the completion of a 2,100 megawatts at Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power project will provide a lasting solution to power problems in the country, because the scheme is designed in a way that it will store enough water for power generation even during dry seasons.

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