Rural energy service delivery continues to be one of the most significant development challenges for Tanzania. It is estimated that less than 14 percent of Tanzania’s 41 million residents have access to the electrical grid. In rural areas, where 75 percent of people live, ac cess is estimated to be 2-3%. Conventional electrical energy is cost prohibitive and unable to reach the majority of Tanzanians. The GDP (PPP) is US$1300 per capita and 37% of the population lives below the poverty line (CIA, 2010). Even with efforts to increase production and the level of connectivity, it is not likely that access to the electrical grid in Tanzania will be greatly improved in the short-to-medium term.
Modern fuels (electricity, gaseous and liquid fuels) are costly, and it is estimated that only 3% of population use these fuels. Greater than 95% of citizens (WHO, 2007) rely on less efficient solid fuel energy sources, which impede local economic development (UNDP). The burning of biomass fuels, mostly fuel wood, represents over 92% of the energy use of the country. Despite the use of biomass fuels, poor households spend a considerable share (up to 35%) of their income to meet their domestic energy needs. 80% of the national energy consumption is directed to domestic use, such as cooking and lighting that largely relies on inefficient stoves or the traditional 3-stone method for cooking. These technologies have poor energy conversion rates, which reduce indoor air quality and place an unreasonably high demand on natural resources.
Inefficient use of biomass for domestic energy production creates an unhealthy living environment that disproportionately affects women and children. Indoor air pollution accounts for 1/3 of childhood deaths globally (Smith, et al., 2004) with respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia accounting for 14% of total under 5 child mortality in Tanzania as of 2008 (WHO 2010). In addition, the collection and/or purchase of biomass fuels such as firewood and charcoal can be time consuming and physically burdensome, particularly for women and children who traditionally undergo this drudgery. The environmental impacts resulting from the country’s high dependence on biomass fuels are considerable. Increasing population pressure and energy demand has resulted in high deforestation rates of ~400,000 ha annually (FAO). The common use of charcoal, particularly in urban households, requires 6 kg of raw wood/kg charcoal and furthermore employs processes that have significant impacts on vegetation, soil and watersheds (Van Beukering et al, 2010).
Despite high Natural Resource (NR) base depletion, overall energy demand per capita is increasing at alarming rates that estimate tripled consumption by 2020 (MEM, 2010). While alternative energy sources (such as solar & biogas) are entering the market, a business as usual approach to up-take may well be too slow to avoid severe rural / urban energy shortages and dire environmental consequences.
However, a lack of accurate national information, as indicated by the limited availability of reliable and aggregated data, is a contributing factor to unclear lines of policy direction or attention at decision making levels to effectively addressing energy based issues. National energy planning focuses at the present time are lacking in realistic perspective or regulatory practices that would ensure viable and accessible energy access that is reflective of the needs for the majority of Tanzanians.
Although RE technologies (improved cook stoves, biogas, solar) provide alternatives that reduce the negative impacts of traditional energy (biomass, fossil fuels), RETs are traditionally presented to consumers in short term and isolated programs offering single source energy solutions. While this provides initial relief to immediate energy issues, after more than a generation of RE interventions, Tanzanians still have limited ability to access affordable and reliable renewable energy options.
GBFS provide service support in the following areas
- Application of Renewable technologies such as solar energy, biomass and briquettes to small household level home systems for supporting lighting, phone charging systems and radios made available to large numbers of households through pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) systems
- Advocating adaptation/application of large solar power stand-alone systems for productive use to support lighting, phone charging systems, radio etc. and that can be used at small scale rural based business premises to provide the required power.
- Larger solar power systems that meet the full range of household needs and are still affordable for low income individuals
- Distribution models that support local entrepreneurship and growth of SMEs within a renewable energy product demand and supply chain
- Supporting development Innovative ideas that stimulate “next generation” approaches in renewable energy sector