Tanzania has abundant energy resources such as hydropower, natural gas, coal, uranium, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, tidal, and waves. Tanzania’s total power installed capacity is 1,605.86 MW (2021).
Tanzania Energy Sources
The Tanzanian hydropower capacity relies on the country’s vast water resources, which include lakes such as Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, Nyasa, Rukwa, Manyara, Eyasi, and Natroni, as well as rivers and basins across the country.
Hydropower installed capacity in Tanzania stands at 562 MW, while estimates of potential additional capacity are as high as 4.7 GW. However, weak transmission infrastructure is considered a significant short-term barrier.
In 2020, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) awarded two major consultancy contracts for the Rumakali and Ruhudji hydropower and transmission lines projects.
The contracts have been awarded to Multiconsult, a Norvegian engineering consultancy, which will undertake feasibility studies, prepare conceptual design and tender documents, and conduct environmental and social impact assessment studies.
The 222 MW Rumakali and 358 MW Rhuhudji projects are both located in the Njombe region in the southern highlands of Tanzania and could double the country’s total installed hydropower capacity from 562 MW to 1,142 MW. The projects are scheduled to start immediately and are planned to be completed by Q3 2021.
In May 2021, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Tanzania have signed loan agreements totaling USD 140 million to finance the construction of the 50 MW Malagarasi hydropower plant in Western Tanzania.
The funds will be used to construct the plant and an evacuation transmission line, as well as to add 4,250 rural electrification connections, providing reliable renewable energy to households, schools, clinics and small and medium-sized enterprises in the Kigoma Region.
Tanzania’s estimated natural gas reserves currently (2016) stand at 57 trillion cubic feet (TCF).
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals implements its oil & gas exploration and development policies through the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).
TPDC estimates that the country’s gas fields are large enough to cover the domestic power requirements and make Tanzania the next natural gas hub in Africa.
Tanzania’s natural gas is produced from three sources: Songo Songo, Mnazi Bay, and Kiliwani North. The total gas production stands at approximately 175 cubic feet per day.
There are nine thermal power plants in Tanzania converting natural gas to electricity: Ubungo I and II, Tegeta, Songas, Mtwara, Somanga, Kinyerezi I and II, and Dangote. Total production per year stands at approximately 650 MW.
Coal reserves in Tanzania are estimated at 1.9 billion tonnes, 25% of which are proven. The main coal reserves are found in the southwestern part of the country.
Currently, less than 1% of Tanzania’s power is generated from coal-fired plants, however, the government has plans to develop up to 2,900 MW of coal-fired power generation by 2025.
Tanzania Petroleum Imports
Tanzania is a net importer of petroleum products. In 2018, the country imported USD 1.77 billion in refined petroleum, becoming the 75th largest importer of refined petroleum in the world.
Tanzania imports refined petroleum primarily from India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Oman.
The Dar es Salaam port is the main entry point of petroleum products with 99% of all imports, while the remaining 1% enters Tanzania through the Kenyan border with Sirari.
Petroleum products supply in Tanzania has been conducted through a Bulk Procurement System (BPS) since 2011.
Under the BPS, purchases of petroleum products are made from a pool of imports obtained from suppliers selected through a competitive bidding process.
The BPS covers the following grades of petroleum products: Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), Unleaded Motor Spirit Premium (MSP), Jet A-1, and Illuminating Kerosene (IK).
Tanzania Renewable Energies
Tanzania is endowed with diverse renewable energy resources, ranging from biomass and mini-hydro to geothermal, solar and wind.
However, renewable energy (excluding large hydro) accounts (2015) for only about 4.9% of the generation capacity.
Tanzania’s sunshine hours per year range between 2,800 and 3,500 with global horizontal radiation of 4–7kWh per m2 per day.
Solar resources in Tanzania are especially present in the central region, and they are being exploited for both off-grid and grid-connected solutions.
To date, about 6 MW of Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy have been installed in Tanzania.
The Government supports solar development within the country by removing VAT and import taxes on the main solar components (panels, batteries, inverters and regulators).
In 2019, the World Bank (WB) signed a grant agreement with the Government of Tanzania amounting to USD 4.5 million to finance the access to a sustainable water supply through improved solar pumping systems in 165 rural Tanzanian villages.
Tanzania’s wind resource assessments indicate that the Kititimo and Makambako areas have adequate wind speed for grid-scale electricity generation.
At Kititimo wind speeds average 9.9 miles per second and at Makambako they averaged 8.9 miles per second at a height of 30 meters.
In June 2020, Tanzania’s first-ever wind farm in Mwenga in the Mufindi district of Tanzania’s Iringa region started generating electricity as part of its startup testing procedures.
Construction of the 2.4MW power plant was completed in May 2020. It was made possible thanks to a loan from the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), and is operated by the Rift Valley Energy Group.
Tanzania Biomass Sources
Biomass is Tanzania’s largest energy source, although much of it is produced in traditional and unsustainable ways.
It is estimated that more than 95% of households in Tanzania use firewood and charcoal as their source of energy for cooking. In urban areas, about 71% of all urban households consume charcoal and about 19% consume firewood.
Biomass in Tanzania is presently used for grid generation (around 18 MW) and by the agro-industry to generate its own electricity (about 58 MW estimated).
Tanzania Geothermal Potential
Tanzania has geothermal potential in most parts of the East African Rift Valley System. Estimates indicate a potential exceeding 650 MW, with most prospects located in the East African Rift System.
Most of Tanzania’s geothermal prospects have been identified by their on-surface manifestations, mainly hot springs. Surface assessments started in 1976 and, to date, there are over 50 clusters of hot springs identified in the country.
Tanzania’s government established the Tanzania Geothermal Development Company (TGDC) to specifically deal with the overall development of geothermal resources in the country.
The generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Tanzania, is channeled through TANESCO, which is fully owned by the government and is responsible for 98% of the electricity produced in the country.
Currently (2020), Tanzania’s total power installed capacity is 1,602 MW of which 244 MW were added in the past four years.
Tanzania’s electricity generation comes mostly from natural gas (48%), followed by hydro (31%), petrol (18%), solar (1%), and biofuels (1%).
Tanzania also imports power from Uganda (10 MW), Zambia (5 MW) and Kenya (1 MW).
The traditional dependence on hydropower combined with the droughts that are affecting the country, often result in power supply shortages.
To bridge the electricity supply gap in the country, TANESCO contracted Emergency Power Producers (EPP).
The average electricity consumption per capita in Tanzania is 108kWh per year, compared to Sub-Saharan Africa’s average consumption of 550kWh per year, and 2,500kWh average world consumption per year.
In 2019/20, 37.7% of all households in Tanzania Mainland are connected to electricity, compared to 32.8% in 2016/17.
According to the National Census of 2012, about 70% of Tanzanians reside in rural areas whereas 69.8% had access to electricity.
In rural areas, households connected to electricity accounted for 24.5% in 2019/20 compared to 16.9% in 2016/17.
This is why the Government of Tanzania plans to increase rural connection levels to 50% by 2025 and at least 75% by 2033.
The Rural Energy Board (REB), the Rural Energy Agency (REA), and the Rural Energy Fund (REF) were established to promote, stimulate and facilitate access to modern energy services in rural areas of Tanzania.
Last Update: 9th June 2021
Sources: African Development Bank (AfDB), International Energy Agency (IEA), Oxford Business Group, Rural Energy Agency (REA), Tanzania Ministry of Energy.