Electricity in Tanzania: A Luxury for Most

At present, 36% of households in Tanzania have access to electricity, reserving reliable and efficient electricity supply for the comparatively wealthy. Despite having ample energy resources such as wind, solar, tidal, biomass and other renewable sources of energy and an abundance of coal, Tanzania has struggled to provide grid-power to the majority of the country. In fact, Tanzania produces more electricity than it consumes: 6.7 billion kWh in production versus 5.68 billion kWh in consumption . However, the country lacks the infrastructure to deliver grid power to the entire population. As of 2012, 70% of Tanzanians lived in rural areas, but only 7% of the rural population had access to electricity supply. This is due to insufficient government funds, which leads to poor equipment and infrastructure and the isolation of large swathes of land from electricity.

For schools, electricity is even more of a luxury commodity. As of 2014, only 14% of schools in Tanzania functioned with electricity. Some common problems preventing the electrification of schools are (1) high up-front costs, (2) poor, unreliable, and often stolen equipment, (3) and the urban bias which prioritizes urban education centers over rural schools. Many schools who are lucky to receive electricity access through government subsidies or private sector intervention often do not have the financial capacity to sustain the costs of maintaining it. The bottom line is that electricity is simply too expensive for the majority of schools in Tanzania to receive and maintain.

As part of our mission to empower schools through self-sufficiency, over the next few weeks, CIS will be conducting ground interviews with low-cost private schools in Dar es Salaam to determine the reality for schools on the ground. Stay tuned to hear more about the how schools in Tanzania function with or without electricity!