How Many Rural Tanzanians Have Power?

Are rural households in Tanzania which have access to the national electricity grid actually connected to it?

According to Tanzania’s Rural Energy Agency (REA) Managing Director, Engineer Gissima Nyamo-Hanga, 67.5 percent of the country’s national population is connected to electricity as of December 2016. Furthermore, he adds, 49.3 percent of rural households are connected to the national grid.

This statement was in response to reports of slow rural and urban electrification brought up during a stakeholders meeting in Dar es Salaam held by the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organisation (TaTEDO) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) earlier in September.

The meeting, which was covered by The Citizen, pointed to the need for participation by private sector players to speed up the process by establishing renewable energy mini-grids in off-grid rural areas in Tanzania.

So, the question is, how many of Tanzania’s rural households actually have electricity?

PesaCheck has researched the issue, and finds that Engineer Gissima Nyamo-Hanga’s statement is FALSE for the following reasons:

The Government of Tanzania has committed to connect half the country’s population to electricity by the year 2020, and to connect at least 75 percent by 2033. However, only 32.8% of households in Mainland Tanzania are connected to electricity, even as TANESCO, the country’s power supply company, plans to triple production from the current 1,501MW to 4,915MW over the next three years.

The lead agency pushing this electrification process is Engineer Nyamo-Hanga’s REA, which works with the government-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) to construct electric infrastructure in rural areas.

Speaking via phone to The Citizen, Mr Nyamo-Hanga stated that more than two-thirds of Tanzanians have been connected to the national grid.

These sentiments stand in stark contrast to data which shows that in 2016, only about 32.5 percent of the country’s population had access to electricity.

Engineer Nyamo-Hanga’s claim appears to come from the 2016 Energy Access Situation Survey report, which says that 49 % of Tanzania’s rural population has access to electricity.

However, access to the grid and actual connectivity are two different things.

The 2016 report was published by Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics, and Engineer Nyamo-Hanga actually wrote a compelling foreword for it. The report states that the actual percentage of households connected to electricity in any form in rural Tanzania is only 16 %, with 65% of urban households connected to the grid as well.

Therefore Mr Hanga’s statement that 49 percent of Tanzania’s rural households have access to electricity is FALSE. It assumes that the figure with access to electricity is the same as those that actually have electricity. According to the 2016 Energy Access Report for Mainland Tanzania, only 16% of rural households actually have electricity.

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This report was written by PesaCheck Fellow Belinda Japhet, a Communications Consultant, Journalist and Online Editor based in Tanzania. The infographics are by PesaCheck Fellow Brian Wachanga, who is a Kenyan civic technologist interested in data visualisation. This report was edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. PesaCheck To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.

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PesaCheck is a joint initiative of Code for Africa, through its local Code for Tanzania chapter, and the Data Zetu initiative to give Tanzanian citizens actionable data, in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from the International Center for Journalists(ICFJ).

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