Tanzania faces considerable challenges in bringing rural households and enterprises out of poverty due to the limited accessibility and reliability of electric power. The electrification rate — estimated at 11 percent — is one of the lowest in the world. The Government of Tanzania has responded to this challenge by establishing the Rural Energy Agency (REA) to accelerate the expansion of modern energy services to rural communities. However, efforts to aggressively expand electricity access have been hampered by high construction costs for distribution lines and the resulting high connection charges that are charged on rural consumers.
Expanding Access to Electricity
NRECA International has provided extensive support to the government of Tanzania to identify barriers and offer solutions to more rapid expansion of rural access to electricity. NRECA efforts have focused on improving design and construction standards for rural distribution infrastructure, management of low-cost pilot projects and conducting a series of feasibility studies for Tanzanian expansion projects. Projects include:
- An assessment for rural energy expansion to more off-grid areas, and recommendations to USAID on how they can work with the REA to make it happen.
- A MCC funded project to review a joint MCC/Government of Tanzania plan to extend the power grid and expand access to electricity in Pwani, Shinyanga, Morogoro and Tabora. This review process also includes intensification projects in Mbeya, Morogoro and Iringa, that will allow the utilities to add consumers to existing medium voltage infrastructure through small line extensions.
- Working with the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency (REA) to implement two projects with low-cost rural electrification design standards in the Morogoro and Mbeya regions. Co-financed by the World Bank, these projects will eventually bring electricity to more than 7,200 consumers—many for the first time. The low-cost design standards designed by NRECA International could reduce future rural electric infrastructure costs by as much as 50 percent which would lead to increase in electricity access in future years.
Work in Progress
NRECA will provide supervision services for engineering design, procurement, and construction of the low cost pilot project in Kilombero and Mbozi districts. Both projects will use low cost design features that are characterized by high-strength conductors to allow long spans, small single phase transformers, and shorter low voltage circuits to reduce losses and improve quality of service.