Drivers and barriers to rural electrification in Tanzania and Mozambique - grid-extension, off-grid, and renewable energy technologies
Journal article, 2014
Mozambique and Tanzania are countries with very low rural electrification (RE) rates as only about 5% of the rural population use electricity. Despite efforts to extend the national grid in rural areas, most remote areas will not be reached within the foreseeable future. Off-grid (decentralized) electricity grids are seen as a complement and forerunner to the national grid, making electricity available many years in advance and creating demand and a customer base. Renewable energy sources are plentiful in the region and may be particularly useful for off-grid systems. The countries' power sectors are undergoing interesting changes with potential to speed up the pace of RE. However, there are significant barriers to effective RE by grid-extension and off-grid installations.
In this study, the specific drivers and barriers for RE in Mozambique and Tanzania are explored across a spectrum of involved actors. By qualitative methodology, drivers and barriers were first identified through literature survey, then data was collected both in semi-structured interviews carried out with power sector actors from national to local level and in visits to off-grid electricity users in Tanzania and Mozambique during eight weeks in 2010. Findings illustrate generic, country-specific, and renewable-energy-technology-specific drivers and barriers to grid and off-grid rural electrification, as perceived by different power sector actors. Results were validated and discussed with three external specialists. Drivers and barriers strongly relate to the roles of national and local actors in planning and implementation. The main drivers are political ambitions based on expected growth of demand, but bottom-up drivers such as local initiatives by industries or churches also exist. The barriers are related to lack of access to human capital, to difficulties in planning and donor dependency, to low rural markets and little interest from private sector, and to more straightforward technical matters such as difficulties with installing electric equipment in traditional buildings. Although off-grid systems and renewable energy sources are recognized by the actors, specific barriers to these systems are related to young organizations responsible for implementation and to guilt-by-association with dysfunctional diesel-based off-grid systems.
Drivers and barriers