Makamba: Electricity supply will improve

Energy Minister January Makamba responds in Parliament in Dodoma on Tuesday to MPs’ views on the electricity supply situation in the country. PHOTO | EDWIN MJWAHUZI

What you need to know:

  • Energy minister January Makamba appeals for patience as the government works to resolve long-standing issues that have led to inconsistent power supply

Dodoma/Dar. Energy Minister January Makamba is optimistic that the electricity supply quality will improve, asking for Tanzanians’ patience as the government deals with some challenges that have resulted in frequent power outages.
“We have a long-standing legacy challenge,” Mr Makamba said on Tuesday.
He was responding to concerns from Members of Parliament (MPs) who had discontentedly reacted to intermittent power cuts in the country.

The MPs’ reaction came up after chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, Mr Dustan Kitandula, had presented a report in the House on the implementation of the committee’s activities from January 2021 to February 2022.
Mr Makamba - who doubles as the Bumbuli MP - said under best international standards, Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) should have been allocating between 10 to 12 percent of its gross revenues for repair and maintenance (R&M) of the power utility’s infrastructure.
Last year, he said, Tanesco collected Sh1.8 trillion in gross revenues, suggesting that the R&M budget should have been in the region of at least Sh180 billion. In the previous year, said Mr Makamba, Tanesco collected Sh1.7 trillion in gross revenues, suggesting that the R&M budget should have been at least Sh170 billion.

“That is how it is supposed to be but ask how much has been injected into R&M for the past ten years…there is no way you can dodge this scientific theory and that’s how it is done everywhere… You can blame the Minister on power cuts but we must do the necessary things…,” he said.
He said a 33kV transmission line is required to cover only 100 kilometres. However, there were such lines that cover up to 1,600 kilometres. The standard for an 11kV transmission line which cover 30 kilometres yet in most cases, the line cover up to 206 kilometres. “… It is obvious that the transmission will be quite unstable and this is the legacy we have inherited and we must do something,” he said.
This, he said, was why the government has designed a huge project, covering $1.9 billion (about Sh4.37 trillion) to upgrade substations and transmission lines in an effort to ensure that they power on the national grid was stable.

“We ask for your support honorable MPs,” he said, noting that throughout Tanzania, there were a total of 67 substations, against 132 distribution districts on Tanesco’s list.
“Out of the 67 sub stations, 39 are in Dar es Salaam. How do you expect to have a stable electricity supply while you do not have sub-stations, a majority of which are worn-out,” he said.
The government has thus set aside funds to refurbish 59 sub-stations and instal 59 more.
“We have inherited problems and we are working on them,” he said.
Earlier, contributing to Parliamentary Committee’s report, Geita Rural MP (CCM) Joseph Musukuma said the committee had seen that there were no basic reasons for power cuts and that the issue was some sort of unprofessionalism.
He said that’s why they wanted Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to present a schedule to the committee about how renovations were carried out in the past five years, but not to tell the MPs that power plants were not renovated.
The MP wanted the leadership of the state owned power company to come up with basic reasons causing power cuts in the country.
Jesca Kishoa (Special Seats, Chadema) said the issue of power cuts was not a surprising thing to hear because, she explained, it was occurring in many countries, but the difference was the rate of power blackouts.
“I have read the 2018 statistic reports that a study was conducted in 15 African countries and the findings of the study showed that Tanzania was the ninth country in power cuts during that year as there were 670 power blackouts,” she said.
The legislator said the findings of the study indicated that Nigeria was leading in having 4,600 power cuts during that year while South Africa was doing much better in preventing blackouts as there were only 50 power cuts.
She said the 2018 report of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) indicates that in 2017 there were 2,844 power cuts in Tanzania.
According to Ms Kishoa, during the year 2017 businessmen incurred a loss of over Sh3.2 trillion due to the power cut challenge in the country.
Fort his part, the Igalula MP (CCM), Venant Protus, said they were initially told that water levels in power generation dams had receded - but, luckily enough, the rains fell and filled up the dams!