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The last few years Tanzania has been facing electricity rationing by Tanzania Electricity Company (TANESCO), a company which was first established in 1908.

 

Some of the reasons for rationing have been mentioned. For instance in October 2008, Tanesco Public Relations Manager Badra Masoud said a transformer at the company's 100MW Ubungo gas powered plant was destroyed and caused a loss of 40MW and a 20MW generator belonging to Aggreko Company collapsed and failed, leaving the firm with a 20MW yield.

 

The month of March 2010, Dar es salaam has experienced lack of electricity at least once every other day. This on its own might not sound like such a big deal because well ...someone can always use torches, candles, wood and other means. But what does the bigger picture mean?

 

The bigger picture means, most organisations have to find a alternative energy to operate.  For instance, hospitals need electricity; generators are not empowered to run at all times. Some hospitals do not own generators. How then can they store blood? Sterilize equipment? Stabilise someone who is connected to a machine for survival?

 

Many businesses depend on reliable electricity supply. This includes media stations, hair dressing salons, restaurants and others. Needless to say, with the time of the economic crisis lack of electricity is a heavy burden. It is already very difficult to get customers, and if one has a customer, it is necessary to give the best service. One woman said ‘I used to go to the hair dressing salon once every week, now I go only once every three months to ‘re-touch’ my hair.’ Such is the revenue cut for most businesses, which directly affects the gross national product (GNP).

 

I have wondered why the government hasn’t explored a sustainable solution for this problem. Or have they? I won’t know what is happening; I’m just one of the many unimportant Tanzanian citizens.

 

I got to read about the clean development mechanism. One of the many plans that European Union developed as a way to trade emission credits. This is all part of the Kyoto agreement.

 

I also read about technology transfer and realise that there must be a sustainable solution within all this information. Of course, it all depends on who wants to get involved, if partnerships can be formed, and if sponsors can commit to such a big project like investing in solar energy as a replacement to electricity.

 

Solar energy is green energy and there is no lack of sunshine in Africa. However, this requires a high investment in photovoltaic and the technology of harvesting the energy. Is European Union willing to invest in giving this much sustainable support to Tanzania? Because this may very well be, the backbone for current and future economic development.

 

*Stella Evelyne Tesha is with Rotterdam based Green Waters Foundation (www.green-waters.org).

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