Dar es Salaam. The business community called on the government to find a lasting solution to power woes, including stopping rationing electricity in industrial areas during production peak hours.
This call came just a day yesterday after the announcement by the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) of rationing following a shortfall of 345 megawatts at hydropower generation stations due to drought.
But experts who spoke to The Citizen said unstable power supply was a threat to the country’s vast economy and place even more strain on supply chains.
Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) advocacy and policy director Akida Mnyenyelwa said industrial areas needed a very stable power if manufactures were to operate at full capacity.
Otherwise, he cautioned, the use of standby generators - the only option they have - was not economically viable due to high running costs. To make things even worse, standby generators were limited to only light and not heavy industries.
“It is very costly to use a standby generator. High production costs put us on an uncompetitive edge,” hinted Mr Mnyenyelwa. Diesel is more expensive compared to Tanesco unit rates.
His sentiments were echoed by entrepreneur Ayoub Kawambwa, who called for preferential supply of electricity to industrial areas and other locations that require a constant supply of electricity.
He said such areas house thousands of workers whose livelihoods are in tatters due to limited power supply. “We need to also have short term and long term solutions for energy shortage,” he opined.
Adding: “This should go in hand with investing more in gas energy since we already have projects that focus on harnessing gas use and supply.”
The government had invested about $1.4 billion in constructing the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam natural gas pipeline, which is only utilised by about seven percent of its capacity.
Coca-Cola managing director Unguu Sulay said with unstable power, their costs of production would be very high because to be able to produce they would have to run the diesel generators.
“We will not be producing at our full capacity because we will have to stop some of the machines in order to optimise costs,” he said.
It would also, he added, deter any investment from the group because they (group) loved to invest in the country whereby there is stable electricity.
“The scarcity of electricity linked to hydroelectric power generation poses a lot of woes to investors because we depend on the power that is not sustainable,” said Mr Sulay.
Countries that have invested in alternative sources of energy like solar, wind and natural gas, stand a good chance of attracting more Foreign Direct Investments because investors are keen to see they don’t produce greenhouse gases.
He said the only way to sustain the growth in terms of the economy and population was to invest in gas-run turbine to produce electricity.
“We have to refocus our attention away from hydroelectricity towards solar, wind and or natural gas,” recommended Mr Sulay.
Kitivo Mining Company chief executive director Tournabenne Mnyuku was of the view that the government should structure investment in renewable energy like solar and wind.
Also, he added, as much as the country wanted to protect environment, the government should tackle some of the controversial energy sources such as coal.
“We cannot rely on hydropower because with the current global climate change, we are going to see unpredictable weather changes,” said Mr Mnyuku.
“Business will suffer----costs of production will go up.”
On the other hand, leader of political party ACT-Wazalendo, Zitto Kabwe, also hinted on the legal parameters, citing that legally, anyone can ask for a license for power supply.
“The only monopoly to the state is transmission. Large supply of power should remain in the hands of the state. However, some areas need to be liberalised, as the law prescribes,” said Mr Kabwe.
He also talked about Tanzania’s power system masterplan and its subsequent updates, stating that it sufficiently prescribes national energy supply strategies.
“In 2016 implementation of this law was suspended. So all lined up investments such as those targeting gas exploration, investment in renewable energy and so on, weren’t fulfilled,” Mr Kabwe added.
According to him, one of the immediate solutions to the power conundrum would be the implementation of the power system masterplan.
Politician and former Member of Parliament John Heche said Tanzania needs to invest more in the use of a diverse mixture of energy resources which include renewable resources instead of focusing more on power projects that limit supply.
He explained that there was a need to invest more on wind, solar and geothermal - that are all clean energy.
CEO and Founder of Zaidi Recyclers, Allen Kimambo, said that adverse effects of climate change are expected and predictable. As such, he says there needs to be a plan in place to counter this aftermath.
“We need to have alternatives, especially on water supply. Unfortunately, we don’t focus on such solutions, such as the use of gas energy. Tanzania has projects that are not completed as planned.
“Due to this, we need to have an emergency plan,” noted Ms Kimambo.