Not long after it became operational, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco) has persistently been plagued by myriad operational challenges. These have included – albeit not limited to – inability to meet power demand in terms of quality, supply and affordability at all times, as well as long-drawn-out financial woes.
By March 2016, Tanesco owed a total of Sh765 billion to various creditors, including gas and fuel suppliers and private power producers who sold electricity to the parastatal for on-sale to consumers.
The debt grew by Sh140 billion last year alone… and still counting!
The debt problem is compounded by increasingly-decreasing revenues, mostly from electricity consumers who routinely default on their power bill payments – including government institutions and other parastatals, as well as Zanzibar. This financial year alone, the projected revenue has been under-collected by Sh227 billion.
In the event, Tanesco is virtually drowning in debt, an idiomatic expression meaning that one owes so much that one is on the verge of economic collapse.
To avoid that ignominious exit, the power utility’s managing director, Dr Tito Mwinuka, has come up with a 12-point strategy – details of which have been circulated to all Tanesco workers, urging them to tighten their belts and combine forces every which way to deflect the company away from the brink of collapse.
The strategy is really a set of austerity measures that include restrictions on official travel – no jaunts – use of company vehicles; overtime or allowances; corporate social responsibility budget, media advertising…
These measures were long overdue – and one can only hope they’ll now be strictly enforced for best results soonest.