Tanzania: Household Energy Demand and Use


A Household energy demand and use
B Household Energy Supply
C Household Energy Sector Governace
D Household Energy Information
E Household Energy Case Studies

A. Household energy demand and use


On average, Tanzanian households cook three meals per day. Where regional food shortages occur or energy supplies are low, this frequency may drop to two, or even one meal. The Tanzanians' breakfast typically consists of tea with porridge or bread, boiled sweet potatoes or cassava, buns, rice cakes, or leftovers from the previous night's dinner. For lunch and dinner, their diet commonly includes stiff porridge, rice, bananas, cassava or potatoes, which staple foods are mostly combined with beans, beef, fish, chicken, peas or vegetable stew. Food is commonly fried, boiled or roasted. In some cases, food preparation may involve several hours of cooking time, with an inevitably higher input of cooking energy (SEI1993, SIDA1998). Common cooking devices include the traditional three-stone fire, metal charcoal stoves, improved charcoal stoves, kerosene stoves and electric cookers.

While fuels for cooking are relatively diverse (firewood, charcoal, kerosene, electricity, cow dung, crop residues, wood processing residues), wood based biomass fuels clearly stand out as the most important. The use of kerosene is usually limited to lighting, and quick cooking purposes. Low income households are particularly dependent on wood fuels, although with distinct regional preferences: while more than 85 % of urban dwellers use charcoal, more than 98 % of the rural population rely on firewood. The consumption of energy is limited mainly by scarcity and costs. Health hazards associated with the use of wood based are mainly caused by poor combustion resulting in excessive smoke emissions.

The use of LPG by low income households negligible, firstly because it is more difficult to obtain in both urban and rural surroundings, and secondly because it is not only a more expensive kind of fuel, but does also require relatively expensive accessories and appliances. Non-users also tend to be concerned about LPG specific risks, such as possible asphyxiation or explosion accidents.

Roughly one-third of low income houses additionally use kerosene (paraffin). While it is a commonly used for cooking in urban areas, its use in rural areas is generally limited to lighting. While kerosene is widely available in Tanzania, food sometimes takes the odor of its exhausts, and the smoke discourages many potential users. However, the most significant constraint against the wider use of kerosene is its cost, and the necessary expenditure for special equipment. This holds true particularly in rural areas, where alternative sources of energy (wood, crop residues and cow dung) can still be used relatively freely.

Coal is not common as a source of household energy (even though it is produced by mines in southern Tanzania), due to the general lack of infrastructure for the promotion and marketing of coal. Electricity plays a similarly minor role, with consumption rates as low as less than 1 % (low income rural households) to around 40 % (urban areas). Less than 8 % of households in Tanzania are connected to electricity grid, but even where electricity is available, the costs for cooking are prohibitively high (electricity fees, prices of the necessary equipment).


Heating is particularly important in the colder parts of the country (Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Mbeya, Iringa, Sumbawanga and Kagera). Wood consumption is significantly higher in these regions, particularly during the coldest months, June and July. While wood is the dominant source of heating energy in rural areas, charcoal is more widespread in urban areas. Three-stonefires and metal charcoal stoves are also used for heating purposes, heating in these cases is often provided as a side-benefit of cooking. Where more fuel efficient stoves are introduced, or biomass fuels substituted with kerosene or electricity, cooking ceases to provide heating as side effect. In these cases, specific heating devices may be required, in addition to improved stoves.

Wood scarcity poses the single most important restriction for heating in rural areas, whereas LPG, kerosene, coal or electricity are negligible. LPG and associated appliances for heating are not readily available in Tanzania. Although kerosene is widely available in Tanzania, its cost and the unavailability of specialized equipment limits its use. The same holds true for coal, which - besides being mostly unavailable - is also considered a health hazard. Electricity and the required equipment for heating are considered too expensive.


Warm or hot water of more than 50 degrees centigrade is required for washing dishes, clothes, and for personal hygiene. Low income households are put at a particular disadvantage, because they have generally less access to both energy and (clean) water. Estimates for the average daily consumption of hot water vary between 30-50 liters per household.

Fuels used for heating water are largely § as for cooking (except solar boilers). Hot water is prepared either in large containers three-stone fires or charcoal stoves, electric heaters or solar water heaters. Again, low income / rural households are mostly cut off from advanced technology such as electric or solar boilers. Likewise, LPG an kerosene offer no real alternative, because of their cost, technical requirements, and the limited capacity of LPG / kerosene stoves. The use of electricity is almost zero for the reasons mentioned above, as is the use of coal (also because of its negative perception as a health hazard).


Lighting is an important convenience for all households. One distinguishes between permanently fitted indoors or external lighting, and portable light sources. Lighting is important for extending the daily working hours, and for public safety after nightfall. Small enterprises rely on electric lighting after dark also for advertising purposes. According to the variety of uses, light sources are manifold, and include wood sticks, candles, kerosene, batteries, solar electricity, and grid electricity.

About one-fifth of low income households rely on wood even for lighting purposes, while the proportion of low income households using LPG is negligible. The use of wood for lighting must always be considered but a stopgap, which is used when other light sources are not available or too expensive. For more than 90 % of low-income households, kerosene is the light source of choice, despite the often inefficient and smoky lamps. The use of kerosene reaches almost 100 % in rural areas.

Only about 10 % of low income households use candles for lighting, mainly because of the related high costs. The use of batteries for lighting is virtually unknown, and flashlights are used only occasionally. Around 2 % of low-income households are connected to the power grid, with a certain variation between rural and urban areas. Extending power lines requires substantial investment, and many consumers cannot meet the required wiring standards.


Refrigeration is required for storing perishable foods. It allows users to buy these perishable products in bulk, which saves money and time. Air conditioning is a useful convenience in hot and humid areas of Tanzania, however most low-income households cannot afford it or have access to this service. The main fuels used for refrigeration are electricity and kerosene, on either refrigerators or deep freezers. Electricity is the preferred choice for refrigeration. The use of LPG for cooling purposes is negligible.


Communication and entertainment services are needed to keep in contact with relatives, friends and colleagues located in different areas (for both social and business purposes). Media communication is required for keeping abreast of world events, sports etc.; hi-fi music systems are also used for entertainment.

Energy consumption for fixed line telephones is not considered in this report, because they draw the necessary power from the transmission lines. However, since radio communications are used in many rural areas, there is a small energy requirement. Energy sources used for communications are grid electricity, solar, dry cell and lead acid batteries. Common devices are radios, mobile and landline telephones, computers, hi-fis, television sets, tape and video recorders. A few electrified households sometimes use battery powered radios during power cuts.

60 % of low-income households use batteries for communications and entertainment services. Most rural un-electrified households use batteries. Some electrified households continue to use battery-operated radios because they do not have access to either inverters or DC adaptors. Constraints are cost and convenience, batteries do not last long, and are considered expensive. In order to reduce costs, and prolong the lifetime of dry cell batteries, many low-income households use these sparingly, for example, people will listen to important broadcasts such as news bulletin, stories, and sport. These batteries are also sometimes 're-charged' in the sun.

2 % of low-income households use grid electricity for communications and entertainment services. A major constraint is the access to electricity. Grid electricity is still not available for the vast majority of households in Tanzania.


Although these appliances are required and are often found in low-income households, there are no studies that have been conducted to quantify their occurrence exactly. Most studies concentrate on basic services, while other appliances are mostly perceived to be luxury items (Food processors, Cookers, Sewing machines, Televisions, Radios).


Tanzanians operate a variety of micro-enterprises. These include sales of cooked food (in urban areas), cold soft drinks, ice cream, cold beer, home brewed local beer, freshly slaughtered chickens, shop operations, hair and beauty saloons, welding, battery charging stations, cloth sewing etc. Energy sources for micro-enterprises are wood, charcoal, electricity and kerosene. Three-stone fires are used to heat water in two hundred-liter open drums. Other appliances which require energy are sewing machines, refrigerators, hair dryers.

While no data are available on the use of batteries, it can be safely concluded that this must be the exception rather, than the norrn, due to the comparatively high price of batteries. 2 % of low-income households use grid electricity also for micro-enterprises. Quality and reliability of the electric power supply is relatively poor, which creates an additional disincentive against the use of electricity also for income generating activities.

Last edited by Miriam Hansen , based on work by Grant Ballard-Tremeer .
Page last modified on Sunday 19 of September, 2010 17:20:40 GMT. @HEDON: JUCB

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