22 May 2013 – Only about 14% of Tanzania’s population, estimated at 43 million, have access to electricity and this figure drops to below 2% for rural areas. Out of the country’s population, over 40 million people rely on biomass for cooking, while almost two million use a combination of liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene for this purpose. Only about 700,000 people in Tanzania use electricity for cooking.
The country has been predominately using hydropower for electricity generation, but the government’s policy is to increase the variety of energy sources the country uses, particularly with the discovery of gas. A major gas pipeline is under construction which could help in this regard.
The country has an estimated, 4,700 MW of hydroelectric potential, but under 600 MW of installed capacity, and even this has seen declines in production to about 330 MW in some years due to drought.
At the same time, electricity supply utility Tanesco, has been providing electricity at below cost with the shortfall being made up by government. This is seen as the subsidisation of middle and upper income households which account for some 85% of residential sector electricity usage, while poor households use only 6%.
At the same time rural communities are provided with unrealistic expectations that they will gain access to electricity. It is estimated that as much as 60,000 MW of capacity would be required for the country to replace biomass as an energy source.