Tackle hurdles for all to enjoy eletricity

Sunday November 26 2017
pic eletricity

        For far too long – beginning in the late 1980s – Tanzania has been frequently experiencing seemingly-endless power outages during which electricity supply hasn’t been available for some reason or another.

Unplanned power outages are of great concern – as demonstrated last month when the energy minister, Dr Merdard Kalemani, made an inspection-tour of the Kidatuhydro-power station in Morogororegion.

As noted in our sister paper Mwananchi yesterday, human/operational shortcomings rather than purely technical reasons may factor in some of the outages.

But then, again – with an installed production capacity of 204MW, Kidatu cannot be entirely faulted for the countrywide outages that characterize Tanzania’s energy sector.

Indeed, Tanzaniaboasts some 1,358MW of installed grid generation capacity for around 54 million souls – and an additional 76MW in isolated mini-grids. Yet, electricity production doesn’t meet the nation’s demand.

This is despite the country’s phenomenal energy sources potential, including hydro, coal, uranium, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, natural gas, tidal and waves.

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To meet the growing demand for electricity, the government is planning to increase the country’s generation capacity to 10,000MW by 2025. To achieve that, it has embarked on reforming the Electricity Supply Industry – doing so mainly by seeking to attract private capital into the industry.

So – ‘Kidatu’ or no ‘Kidatu’ – Tanzania has continued to labor under frequent power outages. That’s despite the more than occasional ‘expansion,’ ‘renovation,’ ‘upgrading,’ and other ‘improvements’ that are regularly made in the energy sector of the economy, often assisted by the country’s development partners.

LDCs need $40bn a year for power for all

On a wider scenario, a recent study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) has determined that “the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs) – including Tanzania – need some $40 billion (about Sh88 trillion) a year to achieve sustainable access to power for all.”

Titled ‘Transformational Energy Access’ – and launched in Dar es Salaam this Friday by Unctad – the ‘Least Developed Countries Report-2017’ looks into how the LDCs “can have access to adequate, reliable and affordable sources of modern energy to escape the poverty trap…!”

Noting that about 82 per cent of the people in rural LDC areas have no access to ‘electricity’worth the name, the report helpfully concludes “it’s critical that LDCs gain access to technologies suited to their conditions.”

Now that Energy Minister Kalemani has been to Kidatu, he should next ‘access’ the Unctad study findings – and get his people to seriously start working on them.

Indeed, we’re reasonably sure that, for starters, Unctad’s Giovanni Valensisi, the Belgium Ambassador to Tanzania, Paul Cartier, and the UN Resident Coordinator in the country, Alvaro Rodriguez, are all able, willing and ready to chip in with advice and the requisite wherewithal.