It's about dam time: Improving microhydro electrification in Tanzania

  • Adebayo E
  • Sovacool B
  • Imperiale S
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Tanzania currently suffers from a severe shortage of electricity with only 14% of the total population connected to the national grid, and access in rural areas below 2%. This article therefore analyzes an internationally sponsored energy development program for microhydro electrification in Tanzania to provide recommendations for how the country's rural energy sector can be improved. More specifically, it investigates the Mini-. Grids Based on Small Hydropower Sources to Augment Rural Electrification program (MBSH for short), a $13.4. million effort backed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Global Environment Facility, and national actors to build 3.2. megawatts (MW) of microhydro capacity from 2011 to 2014. After introducing readers to the study's research methods, primarily semi-structured interviews, and to Tanzania's energy background, the article details the design, stakeholders, and targets of the MBSH. It then presents four major challenges the MBSH must overcome to be successful: seasonal changes in hydroelectricity output, financial problems at the national electric utility TANESCO, historically low electricity tariffs, and high rates of poverty and electricity theft. The article concludes by calling on five sets of national reforms including the scaling up of pilot projects and increasing investment in microhydro projects. © 2013 International Energy Initiative.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Energy poverty
  • Microhydro
  • Rural electrification

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