Less than 2 per cent of Tanzania’s rural population has access to electricity. With support from Sida, Tanzania is working to connect rural areas to the national electricity network. The result is both a higher standard of living and a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
Energy is a prioritized area for Sida in Tanzania. Sweden has previously supported the expansion of hydropower and is now working to provide electricity to the rural areas.
Anders Nordström, Sida’s director general, says: “If we can expand the electricity, we’ll also improve the conditions for economic growth, social development and reduced poverty.”
Investing in electricity is an effective way of increasing people’s living standards. Electricity is important in getting schools, hospitals and authorities’ offices to function. It provides inhabitants with greater access to information via TV and radio and is also important in expanding local trade and industry.
Anne-Lie Engvall, energy expert at Sida, says: “In one area that Sida has been supporting, investors weren’t interested until they found out that electricity was on its way. It’s cheaper to run and expand the business with electricity from the network rather than using diesel generators.”
Electricity leads to better health and education
Lighting in streets and other public places improves the feeling of safety, especially for women and children. Electricity also improves health and education. Homes become a healthier environment when light bulbs replace paraffin lamps. Light bulbs extend the time school children can study in the evenings.
In 2008, the Swedish government decided that Sida would invest SEK 500 million to electrify the Iringa and Ruvuma regions of southwest Tanzania. These investments will provide electricity to 1.5 million people.
Sida demands that the work involved in the electrification process takes the environment and human rights into account. Sida has therefore also been supporting Tanzania’s electricity company, TANESCO in planning and having a dialogue with the inhabitants in the areas that are receiving electricity.
Half of the electricity that is produced in Tanzania consists of hydropower; the other half comes from natural gas and other fossil fuels. In rural areas that cannot be reached by the national network, imported fossil fuels are transported in tankers to power diesel-electric generating sets.
“Our investments are reducing carbon-dioxide emissions in Tanzania,” Engvall says. “In the national networks, hydropower and natural gas are replacing diesel, which is driven out to rural power plants and diesel-electric generating sets.”