Taken from http://www.ippmedia.com

Lack of clear policies to address the growing challenges of solid biofuels (woodfuels) production in Tanzania has lead to marginalisation of the sector in terms of financing and development.

Estomih Sawe, a renewable energy expert said in an interview in Dar es Salaam yesterday that policy makers in Tanzania have paid little attention on wood fuel production, adding that the government has failed to recognize woodfuel as the main source of energy for majority of its people, leaving it to the informal sector.

Even the supply and demand issues of woodfuel, he said, are handled by different ministries, hence, authority and jurisdiction of managing and developing the resources has been without clarity.

“Majority of Tanzanians will continue to depend on solid biofuels to meet their energy needs for many decades to come due to lack of affordable alternatives,” he observed.

Sawe said demand for solid biofuels in most areas of the country will continue to grow due to population growth and its inefficient production and use.

According to him, the situation is alarming particularly with the present trend and pattern of woodfuel consumption pattern in the country which is clearly unsustainable.

Sawe, who is the executive director of Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organisation (TaTEDO) said production and use of woodfuel is based on inefficient technologies and practices, coupled with the inability of most woodfuel users to access modern energy alternatives.
This may leads to uncertainty for future dependence on already diminishing biomass reserve for energy, he said.

Despite the diminishing wood resource, woodfuel, especially charcoal remain underpriced by more than 30 percent relative to its economic cost, he said.

Production costs are not reflected in the market price of woodfuel, he said, adding that undervaluation of woodfuel economic cost has led to inability to know the amount of waste and therefore inefficient use of the same.

He recommended the government to recognize the important role of woodfuel in household cooking and provision of process heat in rural industries.
The policies and strategies should focus on sustainable woodfuel production and use through ensuring large scale uptake and use of efficient wood fuel technologies and practices, he advised.

“It is unfortunate that, like in most African countries, Tanzania continues to insist on unrealistic options that encourage immediate switch to alternative modern energy services (electricity and LPGs), which neither the country has such enough energy services nor the population can presently afford,” he noted.

He added that overwhelming dependence on biomass for meeting basic cooking and heating needs by most Tanzanians is a major cause of poverty and several other deleterious effects.

The latter include deforestation and soil degradation due to charcoal production and the use of woodfuel, he said.
Without access to modern energy services, majority of the Tanzanians will be deprived of potential opportunities for income generation and quality social services, as efforts to reduce poverty and achieve the MDGs cannot succeed, he concluded.

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