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How Reliable Data and Analytics could Catapult Tanzania’s Energy and Development Gains

Figure: Example of Energy Access Explorer’s high-resolution, multi-criteria prioritization analysis. This analysis identifies priority areas which are close to health care and education facilities, far from the power network and where solar and small hydropower potential is significant

Tracking SDG7: Energy Progress report 2022 shows that more than 30 million people in Tanzania (half of the country’s population) are living with no access to basic energy services. Furthermore, the effect of the covid-19 pandemic in recent years has increased the number of people without access.

Energy is the cornerstone for socio-economic development and is linked with 125 of the United Nation’s 169 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). However, access to reliable data has been a key constraint to development in Africa, affecting all sectors that contribute to human well-being, including energy. Energy is more than electricity. Access to clean, affordable, and reliable power is essential for health, education, and economic prosperity, in addition to reducing emissions. Energy expansion planning often relies on limited data. With evolving technology, this should change.

Along with natural gas, Tanzania relies primarily on hydropower for electricity generation, whose capacity has been affected by frequent droughts. Consequently, outages across the country have become more common — particularly in the dry season. Such power cuts have significant economic impact on productive use of energy from large industries to SMEs. The government is committed to diversifying the national energy mix and further accelerating access to modern energy services to achieve universal access by 2030. Their plan is to do so through expansion and densification of national and mini-grids, as well as quality verified off-grid solutions. To attain this goal, access to reliable data and analytical tools is critical.

The Government of Tanzania, with support from World Resources Institute (WRI), Mott Foundation, Tanzanian Renewable Energy Association (TAREA), Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organisation (TaTEDO) and other stakeholders, have partnered to support the development of inclusive, integrated, and data-driven energy plans. Using WRI’s Energy Access Explorer (EAE) – an online, open-source, interactive geospatial platform – clean energy entrepreneurs, energy planners, donors, and development-oriented institutions will gain insights on how to identify high-priority areas where energy access can be expanded.

EAE integrates and analyzes data on demographics, such as population density and asset ownership and data on social and productive uses of energy, such as schools, health care facilities, agricultural activities to assess current or potential demand for energy services. Furthermore, EAE maps the power generation, transmission, and distribution network across the country and energy resource availability (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal) to identify possible energy supply pathways. EAE incorporates other important parameters such as environment (e.g., protected areas, tree cover), access to finance, and more.

Data and analytics on EAE reveal three important findings for Tanzania’s energy and development gains:

  1. Renewable energy potential is high for many Tanzanian households without reliable electricity. 85% of Tanzania’s populated land area has high solar potential and approximately 28.8 million people could benefit from this.
  1. Expanding clean energy can improve healthcare and education in Tanzania. Data on Energy Access Explorer reveals that clean energy can help provide reliable power to vitally important facilities like schools and hospitals, which often lack stable electricity or rely on expensive back-up power systems like diesel generators. 11% of the area housing Tanzanian schools and healthcare facilities, and home to 8% of Tanzania’s unelectrified population, has strong small-scale hydropower. Nearly all the identified area has strong solar power potential.
  1. Renewable energy can boost Tanzanian economies and businesses. 15% of Tanzania’s irrigated and rainfed croplands have good wind speeds. Wind turbines could also help power irrigation pumps and allow rainfed farms to use irrigation technologies, which can help farmers increase crop yields and become more resilient to changing rainfall patterns like droughts. Installing wind turbines in these areas to power agricultural production can improve electricity access without displacing agriculture.

 

EAE can be accessed at www.energyaccessexplorer.org. Earlier this November, stakeholders from the public and private sector, civil society organizations, development institutions and banks convened to get a thorough EAE training with interactive practical hands-on exercises in order to convert data and analytics into actionable insights. Finally, experts formed the EAE Working Group which -together with WRI- is tasked with the sustainability of this initiative.

Thanks to its open-source nature and the ease to generate customized analysis, it is expected that a wider range of stakeholders will use EAE for identifying high priority areas for energy access interventions and ensure that no one is left behind in the journey towards universal energy access.

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