TANZANIA is endowed with a huge 4,000mw-cheap geothermal energy potential and the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, has challenged geoscientists in the country and Africa to tap it for the betterment of the people.
The geothermal potential is about three times the existing generation capacity of 1,583mw produced by both Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) and independent power producers from hydro and thermal plants.
"Our neighbours in Kenya now produce about quarter of their electricity from geothermal but we are hardly generating a kilowatt from the energy," the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, has revealed in Dar es Salaam on Monday while officiating at the opening of the three-day Third Young Earth Scientists Congress.
The congress is being held under the theme "Bridging Geo-Generation into Global Earth Science Integration." The nuclear-scientist-turned-politician challenged geoscientists in Tanzania and Africa as a whole to devise strategies to tap the energy for the betterment of the people.
Dr Bilal expressed concern that despite the rich endowment of resources in Africa, the continent was not benefiting adequately from the reserves. "Our continent is endowed with minerals, ground water, oil, natural gas and coal but the endowment does not serve the continent fully.
"It is as if the resources were located elsewhere since they are mined in Africa and exported in raw form to other continents, denying the continent its fair share of benefits, which could go a long way in alleviating poverty," he noted.
Africa only benefits from limited royalties and small amounts of taxes while only few of its people are employed in the extractive industry because they 'lack skills,' the VP noted with concern.
He also cited the fact that many parts of the continent face adequate shortage of water and yet Africa is bestowed with huge amount of untappedunderground water resources. Dr Bilal expressed optimism that the continent could go a long way to checking environmental degradation, deforestation as well as reduce global warming if made adequate use of earth resources.
"Majority of our people are still relying on firewood and charcoal as their main source of energy, whilst there are various alternative sources of energy which are environmentally friendly such as gas, coal, solar and geothermal to mention but a few," he explained. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines geothermal as thermal energy generated and stored in the earth.
It originates from original formation of the planet and radioactive decay of minerals. Speaking earlier at the same occasion, the Chief Executive of the Geological Survey of Tanzania (GST), Prof Abdulkarim Mruma, said the three-day event brings together young scientists from across the globe to share knowledge and experiences.
According to Prof Mruma, the conference will seek to enhance an active participation of geoscientists in decision making processes on issues related to the earth resources exploration and extraction.