THE energy balance of Tanzania is dominated by biomass-based fuels, particularly fuel-wood (charcoal and firewood), which are the main source of energy to both urban and rural areas.
According to Mr Bariki Kaale, who is an energy and environmental specialist, biomass -based fuel accounts for more than 90 per cent of primary energy supply in Tanzania.
Mr Kaale says that commercial energy sources i.e., petroleum and electricity, accounts for about 8 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively of the primary energy used. Coal, solar and wind accounts for about 0.8 per cent of energy used. Unfortunately, says Kaale, the national energy balance has remained static for over five decades as from 1961 to 2011.
Biomass-based fuels still account for over 90 per cent of the total primary energy supply and with no affordable energy alternatives for the majority of the people in the foreseeable future. Mr Kaale points out that use of biomass-based fuels in Tanzania is currently non-renewable and is the main contributor to environmental degradation in the country.
Mr Kaale who was among the Think Tank at the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil recently says that concerted efforts have been made by the government in collaboration with other development partners in implementing the National Energy Policy to achieve the goal of providing affordable and reliable energy supplies in the whole country.
Nonetheless, he adds, analysis of Tanzania energy situation by end of 2011 showed that the country was experiencing energy scarcity of both traditional and commercial sources. "As a result, scarcity of affordable and reliable energy sources is reported to be one of the underlying factors hindering successful implementation of MKUKUTA and achievement of the MDGs in Tanzania," says Mr Kaale.
Tanzania is amongst the few countries in Africa endowed with abundant energy resources namely: biomass, electricity, natural gas, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear (from uranium), tidal and wave power that could meet the national energy demand on sustainable basis if wisely planned and used.
Energy is central to all aspects of human welfare, including access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation, industry, mining, mass media and environmental sustainability. Reliable and affordable access to energy is a pre-requisite for economic growth and poverty reduction.
The National energy policy of 2003, describes in detail the Tanzania energy situation and key areas that require concentrations. The policy states that domestic energy demand has grown rapidly due to population growth and increase of economic activities. The policy acknowledges that energy consumption in rural areas accounts for about 85 per cent of total national energy consumption.
Mr Kaale says that the main challenge to Tanzanian energy and environmental experts is to provide robust suggestions and strategies to ensure availability of efficient, reliable and affordable energy supplies in particular for cooking to all citizens as advocated by the National Energy Policy.
Wide utilisation of efficient biomass stoves is one of the existing proven opportunities of providing efficient, reliable and affordable energy sources to over 94 per cent of the total population of Tanzania that is under utilised due to low dissemination of the technology.
Based on Tanzania historical socio-economic and energy development experiences, the most realistic energy development path is to start with accessible and affordable energy sources that will create an enabling environment to the majority of the poor to attain upward fuel switch from traditional to commercial energy sources with sound environmental conservation.
Sustainable production and efficient utilization of biomass fuels that could be achieved through local communities' participatory development efforts is one of the priority options for creating an enabling environment to attain upward fuel switch in Tanzania. Prevailing energy problems in Tanzania that could be solved or minimised through successful use of improved biomass fuel stoves include:
Use of non-renewable biomass fuels for cooking by over 94 per cent of the total population of Tanzania that is contributing to environmental degradation and lowering of living standards. Mr Kaale says that efficient biomass stoves are designed to increase energy utilisation efficiency of biomass fuel used for cooking with objective of reducing biomass consumption levels.
Majority of Tanzanians are using traditional three stone stoves that have energy efficiency of 7-12 per cent depending on kitchen management. In other words, says Kaale, those using three stone stoves are using only 12 per cent of the energy content available in the biomass, hence loosing on average 88 per cent of the original energy content of the biomass used.
Research on use of biomass fuels for cooking both at national and international levels have confirmed that users of biomass fuels for cooking could minimise their biomass fuel consumption by around 50 per cent through use of efficient biomass stoves with energy efficiency of about 25 to 30 per cent.
As a result, efficient energy biomass stoves are now eligible for carbon trade giving an opportunity for local communities using biomass fuel for cooking to earn money through the carbon trade. Mr Kaale says that efficient biomass stoves in Tanzania are broadly classified into two categories namely firewood and charcoal stoves.
"They are constructed mainly by using locally available raw materials that includes clay and sand. Nonetheless some catalytic support is required to raise community awareness and to train village artisan trainers on improved biomass stove who will facilitate construction of improved stoves and train other villagers," he adds.
According to him, trained artisans on improved biomass stoves are assisted to form Community Based Organisations at village level to enhance sharing of experiences, monitoring, evaluation and quality control of the constructed stoves. Fixed clay firewood stoves with a chimney that can support two to three pots at a time are commonly constructed in rural areas.
Few portable clay firewood stoves are also available in the market mainly for small families. Charcoal stoves are mainly portable and are commonly used in urban areas. It is also possible to design an efficient clay stove that can use both firewood and charcoal. Institutions cooking for large number of people like prisons, secondary school, colleges and hospitals are encouraged to use efficient fixed institutional stoves that could use either charcoal or firewood.
To achieve the desired improved biomass stove qualities, catalytic training support to village stove artisans is needed as specialised skills are required for selecting suitable raw materials for stove construction, design of firing chamber and chimney to attain the desired energy efficiency of 25-30%. Nominal budget support from Government and other stakeholders is crucial.
Experience shows that due to lack of effective institutional capacity building to biomass stove artisans some unqualified people are producing and selling low quality stoves, mainly charcoal stoves. Main weakness is with the clay liner of charcoal stoves that requires some specialised skills in construction and firing in a kiln.
To minimise the problem, TaTEDO - an Energy NGO has facilitated training to artisans on production of charcoal stove clay liners, construction of firing kilns and quality control of charcoal stoves; efforts that need to be strengthened.
The Rural Energy Agency (REA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and Ministry of Natural Resources are in the process of providing Institutional capacity building to improved biomass stove artisans through training and forming of CBOs at local level that will facilitate control of stove qualities.
In 2011, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals in collaboration with MNRT and UNDP supported construction of 13,301 improved biomass stoves in Moshi, Ukerewe and Kwimba districts that were regularly monitored on quality parameters.
Cost per stove was around 5 US dollars mainly for developing local artisan institutional capacity. Total population benefiting from using the 13,301 improved biomass stoves are 39,906 people covering 6,651 households. Mr Kaale says that at household level, some families using improved biomass stove in Kwimba district confirm that they have reduced costs of purchasing firewood by over 60 per cent, funds saved are used to pay school fees and construction of modern houses.
Tree cutting level in their forest has declined with positive regeneration of valuable timber species, Frequency of fetching firewood has been reduced from 3 trips to one trip per week. Women and children health have improved through none or less smoke in the kitchen. Time saved from fetching firewood is used for growing vegetables and implementing income generation activities through SACCOS.
At institution level, the Prison department in Kilimanjaro region indicated that successful construction and use of improved biomass stoves have enabled them to reduce amount of firewood used to cook one meal from 200 kg to 50 kg. To sustain firewood demand, the prison department is also active in tree growing making them self sufficient on energy needs for cooking.
The head teacher of Kondeni Primary School in Kilimanjaro region reported that pupils used to fetch and bring firewood for preparing their lunch every day - using in-efficient three stone stove. In mid 2011, they were assisted to construct an improved institutional biomass stove with funding from Mwika Development Trust Fund.
Currently the pupils bring firewood only once per week - mainly on Mondays. The head teacher indicated that introduction of the improved biomass stove was a major development achievement with great impact to the school community.
With available skills and political will Tanzania has the capacity to ensure availability of reliable and affordable energy sources for cooking to all citizen through low cost high field impact strategies. To achieve this, concerted efforts from individual household to national level is required to construct and use improved biomass fuels with active tree growing and conservation of existing woodlands to sustain supply of woodfuel.
Energy being a cross-cutting development aspect, districts and ministries should allocate funds for implementing pro-poor energy initiatives including use of improved biomass fuel stoves. Once institutional capacity building for construction and use of improved biomass stoves is provided to the community with proven field success, use of three stone in-efficient stoves should be stopped and enforced through village by laws.