Mwanza. Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) said here on Friday that the reason why there is a power rationing going on across the country is that Tanzania received very little rainfall in 2021, a situation it associates with climate change.
Said Msemo, the company’s Mwanza manager, told The Chanzo during an interview at his office that little rainfall has crippled the state-owned company’s ability to generate enough electricity to cater for the needs of all people across the country, necessitating rationing.
Thanks to little rainfall, all major hydropower plants in Tanzania cannot generate electricity at full capacity, with Msemo warning that the situation will be direr if it does not rain sooner.
“Our hydropower plants – Hale, Pangani, Nyumba ya Mungu [and] Kihansi – are collectively capable of generating 166 megawatts of electricity [per day],” Mr Msemo explained. “But they now generate below such capacity, they generate around 34 megawatts only.”
He said this situation has necessitated power rationing in all parts of the country, including Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city after Dar es Salaam with a population of 3.6 million people.
“We are all witness to the fact that in 2021 there was almost no rainfall in Tanzania,” Mr Msemo explained during the interview.
“And when there is little rainfall, water collection at our dams tends to be small too. When that happens, it means that power generation at these dams also is consequently affected,” he added.
The company’s reaction follows a story published by The Chanzo on November 17, 2022, which highlighted the heavy toll that frequent, prolonged and most of the time unannounced power cuts in Mwanza are taking on the city’s small-scale traders.
In Kiloleli, an area in Ilemela, Mwanza’s bustling business district, small-scale traders complained about how power cuts affect their small businesses, fearing that if immediate interventions are not taken they risk being pushed further into extreme poverty.
Denis Godfrey is a butcher who heavily depends on electricity to preserve his meat. He tells The Chanzo that frequent power cuts are affecting his small business “beyond any estimates.”
“On more than one occasion, I’ve had to dispose of the spoiled meat which was previously stored in my fridges,” the 29-year-old father of one complains.
“Sometimes I sell the meat to those who buy it for their dogs. But even with that, you already have made a loss,” he added.
If Godfrey sells fresh meat for human use, the price tends to be Sh8,000 per kilogramme. But if it is half-spoiled meat, sold for dog use, the price is just Sh2,000.
“Sometimes you don’t sell the [spoiled] meat at all, because not many people feed their dogs with bought meat anyway,” says Godfrey.
“Just this past week,” he went on explaining, “I had to dispose of 12 kilograms of spoiled meat because there was nowhere to take them. That’s worth Sh96,000. That’s a lot of money, really.”
During his interview with The Chanzo on Friday, apart from praying for rain, Mr Msemo said that TANESCO is taking a number of efforts aimed at solving the challenge.
For example, he mentioned the ongoing expansion of the Kinyerezi 1 extension which he said that once completed would add a total of 185 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
“We have also improved the capacity of our Ubungo 3 power plant which is adding a total of 122 megawatts of electricity to the national grid,” Mr Msemo told The Chanzo.
“And I must say that this improvement is very significant,” added Mr Msemo who professionally is an engineer.
“If the situation is bad now, it could have been worse if there were no this additional 122 megawatts to the national grid,” he warned.
Rahma Salum is The Chanzo correspondent based in Mwanza. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.