HOUSEHOLDS nearly entirely in Tanzania still prefer firewood and charcoal over gas and electricity as fuel.
As a result of their dependence, the largest east African country loses at least 46,942 hectares of its forests annually, thus putting at risk the government and stakeholders’ efforts to adapt to climate change. Lightness Richard, a 27-year-old housewife in Dodoma’s Central Business District lives in a three-bedroom apartment.
Her house is connected to a power supply. Nevertheless, she owns a six-kilogramme gas cylinder. But to her, the two are insufficient to heat her meal. “I prefer to use gas to cook a light meal. I only opt to use electricity in an event the gas runs out while cooking … I cannot use and in fact, I have never used gas to cook anything like beans,” she says.
She says a bag of charcoal cost her between 45 and 60,000/- depending on its net size and weight. “I can use it for up to six months since am not a frequent cook of heavy meals,” she says. Her neighbors use charcoal as their main source of energy for cooking and prefer it in what they claim it is substantially cheaper than natural gas.
Unlike Lightness, authorities in Tanzania say they witness a sharp increase in demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), one commonly used as fuel for gas barbecue grills and gas cooktops and ovens, for gas fireplaces, and in portable heaters.
The Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) that was established by the government in 2016 to undertake technical, economic and safety regulatory functions in the key sub-sector announced that demand for cooking gas had increased by 13 per cent in 2018 compared to figures reported in 2017.
“During the period, marketing companies imported 120,961 tonnes of LPG, up from 107,083 tonnes registered in the previous year,” Mr Titus Kaguo Ewura’s spokesperson says. He explains that an increase in demand for LPG had been possible due to an awareness generated on the benefits and cost effects of using the source of fuel.
Ewura’s latest report show while the total gas processing plants installed capacity in the country was over 450 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd) the total average gas utilisation in the country is just below 150 MMscfd.
The government invested a 36 inch-482 km of the natural gas pipeline from Madimba to Dar es Salaam via Somanga Fungu and an additional 24 inch -25km marine pipeline from Songo Songo to Somanga Fungu. According to the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) there is a total of 532 km pipeline with maximum capacity to pump 784MMscfd without compression.
“And it can later be increased to supply up to 1,002 MMscfd.” TPDC, apparently, operates two gas processing plants at Madimba in Mtwara and Songo Songo Island. The two processing plants have a combined capacity to process 350 Million standard cubic feet per day.