Dar es Salaam. More Tanzanians used cooking gas in the 2017/18 than the previous year.
A 2018 report by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority showed that the importation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) rose by 13 per cent, up from that of the previous year.
During the period, marketing companies imported 120, 961 tonnes of LPG, up from 107, 083 tonnes in 2016/17.
Muleba North MP (CCM) Charles Mwijage says awareness about the importance of clean energy has been growing.
Business expert and economist Donath Olomi attributes the increase in the consumption of cooking gas to a change in people’s mindset.
“Previously, people were afraid of using cooking gas, saying it could explode easily,” says Dr Olomi.
However, such increase in importation of LPG has been outmatched by economic hardships and increased competition, according to cooking gas sellers.
Ms Upendo Mroto, a gas seller at Tabata Visiwani in Dar es Salaam, says despite a promotion in price of cooking gas, business is tough.
The Citizen survey established that LPG is currently retailing at a promotion price of between Sh50,000 and Sh55,000 for a six-kilo Mihan cylinder filled with gas and Sh60 000 for Oryx.
For six-kilo Mihan and Orxy cylinders, one must respectively pay Sh19,000 and Sh19, 500 for refilling. “The business is not on our side despite increased importation of LPG. This is due to unaffordability of the product,” Ms Mroto tells The Citizen.
Ms Rebecca Cheyo, a resident of Salasala in Kinondoni District, says she was only using gas for cooking light food.
“Gas is more effective in terms of time but due to financial constraints, it is not an easy task for me to get Sh19,500 at once for refilling my six-kilos of a gas cylinder each month,” she says. She spends an average of Sh19,500 for gas and Sh16,500 for charcoal every month.
Stakeholders are unhappy that the situation could force people opt for other sources of energy like firewood and charcoal which are disastrous to the environment.
Dr Olomi calls on government to improve gas infrastructure to ease distribution.
He sees a need to subsidise LPG cooking gas to lower prices.
Despite increase in importation of LPG, The Citizen understands that many potential customers are yet to be reached due to financial constraints.
Tanzania Private Sector Foundation executive director Godfrey Simbeye call on LPG distributors to be innovative to provide energy services on a pay-as-you-go basis.
He says affordability is not the only hurdle as some people believe food cooked in traditional ways is more delicious.
“Many households do not have access to alternative fuels like electricity or LPG. Even when they do, they may not use them, or they may continue to use biomass alongside the alternative,” he says.