Tanzania pushes for biomass, bio-fuel policy

biofuels18 September 2013, Dar es Salaam – The government of Tanzania said, Tuesday that it is currently reviewing the national energy policy of 2003 with a view to give prominence to biomass and bio-fuel as sources of energy for the population.

This comes amid studies which show that over 90 per cent of the population use biomass, particularly charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating. “Despite government’s investments in boosting electricity generation and distribution not to mention huge expenditures in importing petroleum products, biomass still remains a major source of energy for the population,” Prof Romanus Ishengoma of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) said on Tuesday.

The don said it was high time the government adopted an explicit policy to cover only biomass as opposed to the current energy policy. Prof Ishengoma, who is from SUA’s Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation, made the observation while presenting a paper at the Tanzania Biomass Energy Strategy (BEST)’s stakeholders forum held in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking later at the same occasion, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Eng Ngosi Mwihava, said the government was now working with stakeholders to review the energy policy. Asked on whether the government could consider a policy to cover only biomass energy, the Deputy PS said; “It depends with the views we will get from stakeholders.

It is possible to have a policy on bio-energy which will cover both biomass and bio-energy,” Eng Mwihava explained. He also admitted that biomass energy promotion and production is always regulated, controlled and governed by a wide range of policies, regulations and laws.

“In absence of regulatory framework it makes it difficult to develop a consistent strategic and policy framework that supports sustainable development and utilization of biomass resources,” Eng Mwihava noted.

The envisaged policy would among others set guidelines for sustainability of biomass through modern technology to check environment degradation through reckless cutting of trees to produce charcoal.

“At present, we are told that charcoal burners use about 12 tonnes of wood to produce just one tonne of charcoal but through modern technology the same amount could be produced with only six tonnes of wood,” the Deputy PS said.

Prof Ishengoma said charcoal is a multi-million shilling business which has gone for years without proper regulation and yet it is the major source of energy for both rural and urban dwellers. He went on to argue that energy consumption is always on the increase, noting that even rural electrification projects would not make the population to stop using charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating.
– Tanzania Daily News

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