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Power rationing: A nightmare for small-scale producers

The Julius Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project is expected to ease power rationing to a significance scale. This is due to the 470 megawatts expected from the project this month

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Mwanza. A nation is in the dark, but to small and medium-scale factory owners the ongoing power ration is a nightmare.

While power cuts in Mwanza have been here since as early as August last year, the frequency and duration of such cuts recently have been respectively more common and longer than they were in the past.

Some areas would experience power cuts for about six to 12 hours during the daytime and or at nighttime. The Chanzo has spoken to several small-scale factory owners on how they have adapted to the power rationing.

Sophia Faustine (39) is the owner of one of the dairy factories in Mwanza city center, business was good until the power rationing started. Sophia is now on the brink of closing down her business.

“I have poured out a lot of milk, I have incurred significant losses; I never thought TANESCO could force me to stop processing milk,” said Sophia.

“Milk needs to remain refrigerated at all times, consistently. So, with these power cuts, if electricity is off for a whole day or even for 12 hours, the milk loses its freshness and chilliness completely,” Sophia explained at length.

Lack of proper schedule

Despite the existence of a power rationing schedule issued every week, these small factory owners claim that the schedule is not followed in one way or another.

“Electricity is cut off without any notice; you suddenly find the machines shutting down while you’re grinding grains for people,” said Revocutus Edward (26), owner of a grain milling factory.

The power cuts have made it difficult for Revocutus to earn his living, it has become a nightmare sabotage his dreams.

“TANESCO is intentionally doing this because even if there’s a fault, they should communicate but they don’t do that,” he explained.

The reality is that anyone using electricity to earn a living is likely to be affected by the current situation in Mwanza.

Employment loss

Jackson William (37) is an employee at JFK Matofali, a brick-making business that has been an important pillar in sustaining William’s life. Every day that there is a cut, it’s another day that William struggles to feed his family and he remains fearful if there would be a job left for him.

“We still receive brick orders, but as soon as we are setting up to fulfill them, the electricity will go off,” says William.

This is the same story as that of Jackson Julius (27), an employee at a bread factory located in the Sweya area.

“Now, when the flour is in the machine and suddenly the power goes off, it puts us in a very difficult situation, because we have to wait for the electricity to come back. Remember, the flour has yeast,” he explained.

“At the end of the day, when the yeast starts working, the flour starts fermenting, and later the yeast comes and ferments the flour again, it makes it unsuitable for making bread. So, we end up incurring losses of that magnitude,” he added.

Power cut furstration has left a 24 year ol Penina Philimini owner of a local juice making spot at crossroad, “Now, when I’m juicing, it’s supposed to go into the machine while it’s cold. So, when the power goes off, I incur losses because no customer accepts to drink warm juice,” she explained.

Solution abound

Speaking to The Chanzo over the phone, TANESCO Mwanza’s Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Matuba, explained that sudden power outages in some areas and the non-adherence to the rationing schedule are due to the high demand for electricity in specific regions.

 “When you’re told to reduce two megawatts and you delay, you risk halting the entire grid, affecting the whole country. So, it’s better to say if you reduce these two or three, look at areas where there is at least no major government or critical infrastructure,” Matuba clarified.

Matuba went on to apologize to TANESCO customers and commit that the situation will improve this months, “So, first of all, I would like to apologize for what is happening; even as electricity distributors, we don’t like it. But I also, like to reassure customers that we are going to improve shortly, and it will improve this month,” he amphasized..

A report from the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals presented to Parliament on February 6, 2024, states that Tanzania has a shortage of 283 megawatts. According to the committee’s report, this problem is expected to ease after the completion of the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project in June 2024.

The project is expected to generate 470 megawatts, which will be fed into the national grid immediately after the two turbines are activated. The first turbine is expected to be activated on February 16, 2024, while the second turbine is expected to be activated in March 2024.

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The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on Saturday April 20, 2024 at Makumbusho ya Taifa.

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