Published: MAY 19, 2022

 Current energy mix and access status

Who has the power?

Access to energy and connectivity in Tanzania

The Tanzania Mainland Energy Access and Use Situation Survey II (2020), reveal that for the year 2019/20; 78.4 percent of the Tanzania mainland total population had [1]access to electricity compared to 67.5 per cent in the year 2016/17. The report indicates 11 per cent increase in electricity access from the previous survey conducted in the year 2016/17 however electricity connectivity remained low (37.7%) in Tanzania mainland. Moreover, the survey analysis explored on the urban - rural differentials in electricity access. Limited household electricity connectivity and broader limited use of power for social and productive purposes are linked to expensive prices for providing energy access and connectivity services in Tanzania. Furthermore, existing energy demands to cutter for the current energy requirements accelerate elevated electricity market prices.

Among other initiatives to increase electricity access and connectivity in Tanzania is to increase electricity generation to lower the demand and so the price.

A dangerous mix for a sustainable future?

A mix of fossil fuels and hydropower

 Based on the Tanzania Power System Master Plan 2020, electricity generated and utilised largely (94%) comes from natural gas and hydro sources. Anecdotal findings show that less than 3% of electricity generated and contributing to energy mix comes from renewable energy sources (non-hydropower source). Linked to that, Tanzania has abundant and potential renewable energy resources that once are fully tapped could contribute massively to sustainable ecological and socio-economic development. Under such scenarios it is important for the government and other key stakeholders in the energy sector to deliberately enhance plans and investment in extra reliable and affordable (renewable) energy sources.

Biased power

Inequality energy access and supply

Urban access to electricity increased from 97.3 percent to 99.6 percent, while in rural areas electricity access remained significantly lower increasing from 49.3 percent in a year 2016/17 to 68.9 percent in a year 2019/20 (URT, 2020). Such spatial differentials continued to create a limited room for inclusive initiatives to foster ecological and socio-economic stewardship in rural communities. Limited access and connectivity to electricity in most of the villages in Tanzania tend to impair human electricity-based productivity initiatives. The sustainable development goal seven (SDG 7) emphasize on the focus to ensure an effective inclusiveness of various marginalized groups in the communities for an increased energy access, connectivity, and decent job creation. The thinking should be to reflect energy as an economic enabler to these special groups such as women, youth, small holders (farmers, fisher folks and livestock keepers) and poor people.  more focus needs to be directed in clean, reliable, and affordable energy investments so there is a swift adoption and take off in productive use of renewable energy especially in rural areas of the country.

Decentralized and innovative

A chance for fast-tracking access to energy

 Furthermore, it remains to be an open opportunity to scale up decentralized renewable energy in these villages whereby a pay as you go (PAYGO) system has proven success in some pilot projects. These trials with the indication of progress will finally improve electricity access and connectivity driven by energy demands for productive purposes. Seven regions of Dar es salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Mbeya, Mara, Pwani and Geita were recorded with highest electricity access of 100, 93.6, 89.9, 89.0, 87.7, 85.8 and 84.4 percentages respectively, leaving Kigoma (56.3%), Manyara (58.1%), Shinyanga (61.7%), Songwe (61.9%) and Rukwa (64.8%) with least electricity access in the country.

 Fair enough?

Steps towards power access to everyone

Over the recent years, the Tanzania government have put more effort in increasing electricity access to many communities in the country, however household connected to electricity remains low. Tanzania Mainland Energy Access and Use Situation Survey II (2020) reports that only 37.7% of household in Tanzania mainland were connected to electricity by the year 2020. There were a 5.1% rise in electricity [2]connectivity to household as compared to the year 2016/2017. According to 12th parliament opening speech by the late President Magufuli in November 2020; the government will ensure an increased electricity access to 2,384 villages by the end of the year 2025, which under that circumstances all 12,280 registered villages in Tanzania will be fully accessing electricity from the national grid.

Electricity connectivity and access in rural and semi urban areas of Tanzania is a prevailing challenge impending socio-economic development in the country. Power driven from national grid electricity remains to be the major source of energy for lighting and inadequately utilized for income generating activities and resolving home based domestic activities. According to ESMAP (World Bank), Tanzania energy access and connectivity remains to be applied under tier one of energy usability to contribute to economic growth. It is thus of most paramount importance to start reporting on the energy access and connectivity by describing tier levels. Further observation reveal existing challenge relies on the current definitions used for energy access and connectivity against the modern electricity access and connectivity definitions which largely inculcate the use of energy for production purposes. Highly used and popularized terms are electricity access and connectivity, which inadequately provide a room for a wide consideration of other sources of energy that could contribute to socio economic development.

(This section is part of the Policy Recommendation Report that analysis the landscape of the Energy Sector and Policy in Tanzania. Learn more about it here:  )

[1] Electricity Access: Refers to percentage of people in a given area that have relatively simple, stable access to electricity.

[2] Electricity Connectivity according to the survey report refers to a pole in the village and an electric bulb in the house. Household connected to electricity are referred to household whose source of electricity was either TANESCO/REA or private entity.