6 April marked the launch of a new, important project within Multiconsult’s African portfolio: helping Tanzania’s Rural Energy Agency (REA) to develop a plan that will provide people in rural areas with electricity and clean energy for cooking.
An important step forward for the local population
Tanzania is one of many countries in Africa where most people still don’t have electricity, so they cook their food over open fires or using inefficient charcoal stoves. A lack of electricity holds back economic development by preventing children from receiving a proper education, impeding communication and restricting the economy to artisan activity and basic agriculture. Moreover, the alternative energy sources are expensive and impractical. Cooking using biomass such as wood and charcoal is an important contributor to deforestation, and is also the main reason why respiratory diseases are one of the most common causes of death in developing countries. And as collecting fuel is so time-consuming, it also stops children – particularly girls – from going to school, and leaves less time for productive activities.
In Tanzania only 17% of the rural population has electricity at home, and biomass is responsible for almost 80% of primary energy consumption.
The master plan will include a programme and implementation strategy for ensuring that rural areas have access to modern, clean energy.
Public and private investment
It is very challenging to ensure that the electric power sector remains financially sustainable when expanding the grid to increasingly remote areas where the average household consumes minimal amounts of energy.
The plan will therefore recommend an optimal balance between grid extensions, the creation of small, isolated grids run by the national electricity company TANESCO or by private companies, and distributed generation designed to meet the needs of individual households or public institutions like schools and clinics. Access to the various solutions will require a combination of public investment and development of the private market.
The project is due for completion in 2018, at which point REA and the Tanzanian energy authorities will take over responsibility for implementation and achieving the goals set. The plan is to establish a dedicated website where stakeholders can initially follow the development of the plans. Later this can become a resource where people can follow the expansion of energy access between now and 2030.