Energizing Tanzania: Strategic consideration of possible interventions to support sustainable development and use of bioenergy in Tanzania 2015 - 2025

Energizing Tanzania: Strategic consideration of possible interventions to support sustainable development and use of bioenergy in Tanzania 2015 - 2025

Shortage of biomass for cooking energy has been a concern in Tanzania for several decades and several interventions have been tried out (or: tested) in order to improve the situation. Over time, the concern has become more serious due to population growth, urbanisation and increased deforestation as well as increased knowledge of the socioeconomic impacts in the firewood and charcoal sector. A team of experts formulated a Biomass Energy Strategy (BEST) for Tanzania in 2014, suggesting a wide range of interventions in the sector. In spite of the BEST report being endorsed by a steering committee with all key government ministries represented, the implementation of the BEST recommendations has not yet taken off. This is the background for the present report, which was initiated and funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) to identify possible interventions for Norwegian funding to support sustainable development and use of bioenergy in Tanzania based on Tanzania’s policies and priorities.

The consumption of biomass energy in Tanzania is estimated at 62.3 million m3, while the allowable cut is estimated at 42.8 million m3, leaving a 19.5 million m3 deficit. This fuelwood gap, defined as the negative difference between allowable cut and actual cut, is filled by overharvesting in accessible forests and illegal harvesting in protected forests. Interventions are needed in order to fill the fuelwood gap in a sustainable way. The team therefore asked representatives of government, development partners and the civil society to suggest the most important intervention to promote in this regard. Responses included forest management plans, forest plantations, production of charcoal briquettes, biogas digesters, improved cookstoves, bioethanol production and use of natural gas, while one respondent thought the most important measure was research and education and another respondent thought that many measures should be promoted rather than concentrating on one solution.

A number of interventions are already being implemented within the energy sector in Tanzania. They include electricity production from crop residues, sustainable charcoal production, biogas production from animal wastes, and briquette production from charcoal dust and other biomass. On the demand side, there are ongoing projects focusing on improved cookstoves at the household level as well as in institutions and industries.

Sustainable production and use of biomass energy could be promoted through systematic research and training. Activities within training could include courses, workshops and seminars for researchers, curriculum development within universities and colleges, seminars for policy makers, post-graduate studies, and vocational training for charcoal burners, biogas digester technicians and stove producers. Useful topics for research on the production side include natural regeneration of forests, ecosystem resilience and vulnerability, forest management plans, fast growing tree species for fuelwood plantations, sustainable production patterns including agroforestry, utilization of bio-residues for energy, and efficient charcoal production. On the consumption side, research is needed on assessment of cookstoves produced by various artisans. Also, present and future demand for biomass energy needs to be established, and a cost-benefit analysis is needed for different energy sources and interventions.

Several existing programmes with Norwegian support touch upon bioenergy issues. These include REDD+, which addresses deforestation and forest degradation; SAGCOT, which targets agricultural development, but also promotes biogas energy; and the Clean Energy Programme, which includes a rural energy fund and a support to commercialisation of sustainable energy.

Bioenergy is important for income generation in Tanzania. The charcoal sector generates substantial incomes to charcoal producers, transporters, wholesalers and retailers. Important income generating industries like local beer brewing, baking, brick and tile production, fish smoking, tobacco curing and tea processing depend on bioenergy resources. Income generation opportunities are also available from sectors like briquette production and biogas. Indoor air pollution from burning firewood and charcoal cause severe health impacts, particularly to women who do most of the cooking. These health impacts could be reduced substantially by using improved stoves. On the other hand, a well-designed improved cookstoves programme could give new income opportunities, particularly to women, in production and marketing of clean and efficient stoves.

Further analytical work should be carried out to fill existing knowledge gaps. Examples of knowledge gaps include precise data on the demand for bioenergy and on the amount of available non-wood biomass. For further policy dialogue, several partners are available within the Government of Tanzania as well as among development partners, NGOs and the commercial sector.

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