Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions will account for over a third of 10,000 biogas plants which will be constructed under a three year $ 10.7 million project financed by Norway and which will be implemented by the Arusha-based Tanzania Biogas Development Programme (TBDP).
A total of 3,300 biodigesters will be installed in the two regions under the programme developed through the Rural Energy Agency (REA) and which aims to reduce dependency on firewood and fossil fuels and promote clean energy. Some 1,800 and 1,500 units are planned for the two regions respectively.
Norway alone has contributed $ 1.6m (over three billion Tanzanian shillings) through its development cooperation agency, Norad, for the project which was officially launched at Pangani in Tanga region in January this year and whose implementation will continue until end of 2017 or early 2018.
"Besides providing clean energy, installation of 10,000 biogas plants in mainland Tanzania is set to improve the socio-economic living conditions of the people, environmental sustainability as well as employment generation" said a report made during the recent visit to the project sites in Arusha by the Norwegian deputy minister for Foreign Affairs Ms Tone Skogen.
A biogas digester, a simple concrete structure with channels and chamber, costs about Sh. 1.2m (approximately $ 600) to install. Villagers, who are mostly targeted by the programme, will have to look for Sh. 1 m and the Norwegian support will top up the rest, amounting to nearly 25 per cent discount.
Mbeya region comes third with about 1,400 units planned for installation while Tanga, Manyara, Dodoma, Iringa/Njombe and Mwanza/Geita will have 900,800,600, 700 and 600 biogas plants constructed and installed respectively during the period.
More biodigesters will be constructed either in the regionBiogas Developments with a large population of livestock or those leading in zero-grazing since the biogas energy for cooking and lighting is extracted from cow's waste which, energy experts say, was cost efficient compared to firewood.
The liquid left over from the process (bio-slurry) is used as an organic fertilizer for the soil, the report said, noting;"Encouraging rural households to cook using biogas was a better option than cooking using firewood which poses a threat to the environment".
Dodoma, Ruvuma, Singida, Kagera, Coast, Shinyanga/Simiyu, Mara, Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Rukwa, Tabora, Katavi, Kigoma, Lindi and Mtwara regions will share the rest of 700 biodigesters, the tentative targets presented to the deputy minister indicated.
To fast-track the project, a total 184 bio digesters have been installed in various target sites in January and February this year.
"With increased commitment from the government through REA, it is expected that the biogas industry will further grow and contribute to increased access to clean, modern energy in rural and peri-urban households", said TDBP Coordinator Lehada Cyprian Shila in a statement to this newspaper.
"It would lead to further consolidation and expansion of benefits to rural Tanzanians, through a sustainable, private sector driven development of the sector". The contribution from REA, an autonomous body under the ministry of Energy and Minerals, is mainly focusing on co-financing biodigester infrastructure as an investment discount at households, to be channelled through the private enterprises that construct the biodigesters.
In addition to the investment discounts, the REA financing is aimed to expand biogas market development to new areas beyond those which TDBP which currently operates and to engage in institutional biogas technology use beyond domestic applications.
TDBP is hosted in Arusha by the Centre for Agricultural Mechanization and Rural Technology (Camartec) in Arusha and aims to construct over 29,000 biogas plants by 2018.
The centre was established in the early 1980s to promote agricultural and rural technologies and is credited for having pioneered the promotion of biogas technology using domestic and animal wastes.
The programme is part of the Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP) funded by the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherland's ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For the just launched project, ABB will channel a total of $3.6m while investments by an estimated 60,000 households will be to the tune of $ 5.3m, the report indicated.Biogas Development
ABPP is managed by Hivos, with SNV providing the technical assistance for implementation, building on successful experiences in biogas market development in Asia. Tanzania government is a party to establishment of TDBP.