Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — ESI-AFRICA.C0M — 16 February 2011 – The government of Tanzania has extended nationwide power rationing after a prolonged drought led to a 230MW deficit on the national grid, according to energy and minerals minister William Ngeleja.
Revealing this here, the minister told parliament that only 470MW of electricity was currently being produced, which was equivalent to 67% of the total energy demand in the country. “The state-run power utility, Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), is generating just two thirds of the nation’s total energy demand,” he pointed out.
The minister said peak demand stood at 833MW. Some lawmakers described the shortfall as a "national crisis" for east Africa’s second largest economy.
TANESCO imposed power cuts in December after a shortage of natural gas supply to turbines led to a 40MW deficit on the national grid. Power rationing had been expected to end in January, but drought at hydropower stations has now pushed up the power deficit to 230MW.
Most of Tanzania’s electricity is hydropower-generated. Failed rains have cut output at the dams to 180MW, with another 280MW being produced by gas and diesel-fired turbines.
“We anticipate having an average shortfall of 264MW of electricity from the national grid this year because of expected long spells of drought,” he said, adding that there would still be a deficit of 67MW, even if the next rains fell.
Ngeleja said the government was considering inviting independent power producers to set up emergency power-plants that could generate an additional 260MW of power.
Tanzania plans to produce up to 1 000MW from new coal-fired power plants over the next five years. Only 14% of Tanzania’s 40 million people are hooked to the grid, while demand is growing by 10 to 15% annually.
More than a fifth of Tanzania’s generated electricity is lost during transmission and distribution, but the government aims to reduce this to 15%, Ngeleja said.