By Maureen Odunga
It was a new dawn yesterday for Njombe and Ruvuma residents after their regions were officially connected to the national power grid, ending decades of dependency on unreliable power sources.
Connecting the two regions to the national power grid is a milestone for the government, which is committed to ensuring Tanzanians get access to reliable power.
Ruvuma and Njombe are the latest two regions in the country to be connected to the national power grid, with Kigoma and some parts of Kagera being the only remaining places to be connected to the national power grid.
For years, Njombe and Ruvuma residents have been using power from generators, a practice that forced the government to allocate about 9.8bn/- every year to run them.
Launching the 216bn/- power station in Unangwa, Ruvuma Region, yesterday, President John Magufuli described the event as historic for the people in the two regions.
“The country loses about 400,000 acres of trees annually used as firewood, which greatly affects the environment,” said President Magufuli.
He cited a report released by African Development Bank (AfDB) that 600,000 people lose their lives annually due to lack of electricity because of using either firewood or gasoline.
Thus, the country needs to invest heavily in maintaining reliable power supply to support its ambitious plan of becoming an industrialised and middle-income economy.
According to the President, with the 220Kv electricity supply, about 122 villages are set to benefit meaning that they can establish small industries as well as engage in other income generating activities.
Much as Kigoma and some parts of Kagera are the only remaining areas not connected to the national grid, the President noted that the country still needed to invest heavily in electricity to fulfil its ambitious goal of becoming an industrial and middleincome economy.
Since independence, Tanzania’s power generation capacity is 1,560MW with growing demand.
The President noted that a unit of electricity cost between $0.11 and $0.12 cents, while in developing countries it was $0.12 cent, thus giving room for ample industrial investment.
“We cannot compete with these countries because they are producing products at cheaper prices. Ours, on the other hand, will not get the market,” he noted.
He hailed the government of Sweden for generosity by using taxpayers’ money to support the implementation of the project. The Head of State appealed for more support in ending the country’s power woes in other sources of energy such as coal, gas and uranium.
“I assure you that all funds will be put in good use free from any corrupt practices,” he assured. President Magufuli further said the government’s commitment was to ensure the country had reliable power supply for implementing the 2,100MW Rufiji Hydropower Project.
He, however, noted that the plan was to have about 5,000MW in a few years. Clearing the air in relation to Rufiji Hydropower Project, the President maintained that the country was a staunch supporter of environmental conservation.
“If we do not take initiatives to supply electricity to people, Selous Game Reserve is going to be history. After all, only two per cent of the area is going to be used to generate 2,100MW,” said the President.