AFREPREN/FWD - Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa Website

Home l Site Map l Contact Us l

Working Paper 262


About Us

Focal Areas




Energy News

Energy Events


Related Links

Picture Gallery

Contact Us

No. of Website Visitors:

Tanzania Study on Energy Services for the Urban Poor


Mr. Maneno. J. J. Katyega, Nobert Kahyoza,Antuja Wilson, Msafiri Mtepa


Tanzania was formed in 1964 out of a union of two independent African countries of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which became independent of Britain in 1961 and 1963 respectively. Following independence, the country’s leaders made a call for freedom and hard work as a means to eradicate the evil vices of the society - hunger, ignorance and diseases.

In view of the above, Tanzania conceived an ambitious economic development programme to improve social services especially education, health, agricultural extension services and research, and basic infrastructure. Among the successes established in the early seventies included; real income of both rural and urban population rose, health of the people improved as evidenced by the average life expectance which rose from 33 to 51 years, number of primary school enrolment rose and literacy in Kiswahili reached 70%. To-date, some of these impressive figures have not been easy to sustain due to unfolding economic problems, limited resources and changing priorities of the society.

For instance, very few political leaders thought energy was an issue in the sixties. In turn, it has been so since the mid-seventies. In particular, rising demand for both urban and rural population to gain access to commercial forms of energy. It appears, attention in this regard was focussed on urban population, leaving the rural ones to grapple with traditional sources. However, the population dynamics of the urban areas, their incomes, income differentials, energy demands and consumption patterns have not always been apprehended.

Based on year 1957 census data, the urban population before independence, was a mere 3%. During the past four decades, the country registered very rapid urbanisation trends. Urban population as a percentage of the country’s population was 5% in 1967, 13% in 1978 and 18% in 1988. Rough estimates by the authors put urban population in 1998 of the order of 22%. Thereby, Tanzania with about 9% per annum urban growth 1957-1978, and close to such annual growth rates for the period 1978-1988, constitute one of the highest urbanisation trends in the continent. This situation is also common to the other major towns in the region.

The implication of such urbanisation rate is urban population explosion, which puts great stresses on limited resources available to sustain the population. Consequently, there has been a worsening plight of the urban poor – poor infrastructure, overcrowding, unemployment, poor energy services and high pollution levels. Further, urban population explosion hamper macro-economic corrective measures being taken by the government for sustained growth and poverty alleviation. Changes in prices, incomes and demographic variables have a bearing on households and demand for energy services.

Coupled with the aforementioned urbanisation trends, there has been a general decline in employment in the formal sector. Instead, there has been a growth of employment in the informal sector. The informal sector comprises of small and micro-enterprises including (home-based ones). Available literature indicate that the majority of the urban poor households and home-based micro enterprises have low access to modern energy sources- low connection levels to electric grid system, low use of liquid fuels/LPG and continued high dependency on traditional fuels - firewood and charcoal. Consumption of traditional fuels by the poor is also associated with inefficient end-uses resulting into high indoor pollution and attendant health problems to women and children. Such energy problems also limit the urban poor households and micro-enterprises to uplift their social and income generating opportunities.

Therefore, there is a strong need for Tanzania and the region to look into sustainable ways to provide improved energy services to the majority urban poor without sacrificing environmental and social concerns. Our focus on the energy needs of the households and home based micro-enterprises is indeed geared at both energy issues and income generation activities of the poor.[1]

Since independence, Tanzania has tried various economic policies that could improve economic and welfare conditions of the majority of the population. On the energy scene, Tanzania undertook a number of initiatives to help the country’s poor get access not only to low cost energy sources but also commercial energy sources including:

·     instituting a pan territorial cross-subsidisation energy pricing policies for commercial energy fuels of petroleum products and electricity,

·      allowing a lifeline tariff for small electricity consumption levels in both urban and rural areas, and 

·     implementing efficient charcoal stove programmes

Similar and other energy initiatives have been tried in other theme group countries of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia. The experiences from these countries will be useful for this study.

In the case of Tanzania, a number of household energy surveys have been conducted in the country by United Nations Development Programme/World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) unit in 1987, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in 1992 and 1998, Bureau of Statistical (Tanzania) in 1991/1992 and TATEDO/Hifab in 1998. The surveys and various research and project reports shall provide data for this study and forms a basis for reviewing information gaps for undertaking surveys for the later part of this study.

The surveys and available literature on the subject indicate that little is known on the impact of such previous initiatives targeted to the poor. This study therefore, will attempt a review of such energy initiatives, implementation problems and successes (if any). Further, which future policy interventions likely to improve access of the modern energy services by the urban poor?

Return to top

This paper is available on an exchange basis. If you find it to be useful, we encourage you to send us any relevant publications from your organization. To request for the full paper, please fill in the publications request form

View the listing of Other Working Papers



wordpress visitor counter