H.E. Liberata Mulamula, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United States gave astounding remarks on energy access in Tanzania and how the U.S. can better partner with African Governments to increase energy access and investment, at the Capitol Hill yesterday Wednesday January 29, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International Ltd.
The event dubbed “Let there be light” geared to mobilise further support from different stakeholders to accelerate
In her remarks, Ambassador Mulamula thanked Congressman Edward Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee who sponsored the Act and co-hosted the event at the Capitol Hill. She was encouraged by the work of NRECA and other companies present in Tanzania and in Africa their efforts in making sure that Africans get access to energy which will boost economic activities.
Speaking to a crowd of about 75 stakeholders, Ambassador Mulamula outlined how the concept of energy is defined by the audience and the people of Tanzania. She drew examples from President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address that when the U.S. speaks about energy it means sustainability and self-sufficiency but for Africa and particularly Tanzania, it simply means access.
She reminded them of the recent power black outs in different states in the U.S. due to bad weather, how the local governments in those states had to declare the state of emergency in a few hours of block-outs.
“Imagine how devastating those blackouts were for those states to declare state of emergency; now in Africa my colleagues, it is an emergency every other day” she added.
She explained that only 24% of the Tanzanian population (of 45M) have access to electricity a glaring obstacle to the country’s economic growth. Currently Tanzania’s economic growth has reached an impressive 7% but with an increased access to electricity, double digit growth could easily be reached. With the new discoveries of natural gas and increased investment of the private sector it is hoped that electricity access particularly to the rural population will increase to reach 30 percent by 2015.
Ambassador Mulamula gave her personal experience as she emphasised the urgency for U.S. private and public sector to work with African countries to increase access to electricity. She referred herself as a ‘rural girl’ from an endowed-resourced village near the shores of Lake Victoria but yet only 6% of her fellow villagers have access to electricity. She has made her personal goal to go to her home village every year and use the visits as her yard stick to ‘walk the talk’ in a process of mobilising support and implementation of government policies and programmes. She reiterated that this is the only way to ensure that targets are reached and results are tangible.
She praised (NRECA) International for sponsoring the discussion which was highly needed for stakeholders to hear the facts about accessing electricity in Africa, and what that really means economically.
She explained to the stakeholders that the facts she presented, are an opportunity for American Companies. She challenged them to take risks although it’s not a common thing in America saying “I never meant to dampen your spirits this morning by all these figures but I wanted to present to you a picture that shows there are opportunities for us to work together. Risks will always be there, but you all know where there are risks, there are opportunities”.
NRECA is the U.S. national service organization of more than 900 non-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states and whose retail sales account for approximately 12 percent of total electricity sales in the United States.
For 50 years, NRECA International has provided people in developing countries with access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity. These electrification programs have resulted in increased agricultural productivity, millions of new jobs in micro and small enterprises, and higher incomes and quality of life for rural communities in more than 42 countries around the world including Tanzania.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2013 was introduced in June 27, 2013 as bipartisan bill to establish a comprehensive United States government policy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa to develop an appropriate mix of power solutions for more broadly distributed electricity access in order to support poverty alleviation and drive economic growth, and for other purposes. It has so far attracted 42 co-sponsors in the House.
Embassy of Tanzania Washington D.C.
January 29, 2014