Tanzania plunged into darkness after nationwide blackout

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A technical fault at Tanzania’s national electricity supply company plunged the East African nation into total darkness.

Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), the supply company said on Thursday that it was working to normalize the situation which left households and businesses without power.

TANESCO confirming the incident on Thursday said in a Swahili tweet that: “there has been an error on the national grid and thus caused blackout to all the regions that were connected to its power supply. Efforts continue to re-establish the electricity (supply).”

Tanzania’s power generation mix blends hydro, natural gas and heavy fuel oil to generate electricity. Like in most African nations, there are incidents of partial blackouts which occur due to minor faults.

President John Pombe Magufuli in January 2017 fired head of Tanesco after the outfit hiked tariffs by 8.53%. The president said the hikes would stunt his plans to industrialize the east African country. He went ahead to order a reversal of the move.

The power firm had initially sought an 18.19 percent tariff increase to arrest a loss-making trend and clear debts to independent power producers and fuel suppliers. The energy regulator however approved 8.53 percent which was less than half of what the utility said it needed to stem losses.

About 40 percent of Tanzania’s population of around 50 million has access to electricity and the government is aiming to push that rate up to 75 percent by 2025.

Since coming into office in 2015, Magufuli – referred to as the bulldozer – has sacked dozens of public officials as part of an anti-corruption campaign and a new drive to root out government inefficiency.

TANESCO has been unsuccessfully seeking loans from the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and commercial lenders to turn the company round.

Despite reserves of over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, Tanzania has been facing chronic power shortages over the past decade due its reliance on drought-prone hydro-power dams.

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