The importance of the link between access to reliable power supply and human development cannot be overemphasized. Indeed, few people would find debate on the matter interesting enough to deserve their attention.
But the situation appears to be to the contrary in Tanzania, what with the raging arguments and counter-arguments we have witnessed for quite some time now with respect to the state of affairs at the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco).
With the endless complaints and reservations from Tanesco customers and other members of public over the intermittent and sometimes long-running interruptions of power supply, it is surely pointless to engage in politicking instead of contemplating ways to solve the problem once and for all.
We appreciate the magnitude of the constraints making it hard for the government and the power supply monopoly to serve the nation to satisfaction as some may indeed be beyond their control. Public sensitisation on the facts of the case would make a lot of difference.
But both the government and Tanesco surely know that electricity is such a crucial player in human development that public concern – even fury or dismay – over problems with its availability is understandable. What this means is that all parties to this matter of life and death ought to heed the wisdom in the saying that the wisest way to argue with the winter wind is to put on an overcoat.
In the circumstances, we need to sober up and identify whatever it is that ails power generation, distribution and supply in the country and, having done so, have the capacity to soberly analyse those factors and eventually agree on appropriate ways out of the mess.
One might argue that all this has been long done, and repeatedly, but to no avail. But most chronic diseases take long to cure, so we need to keep gunning for a sustainable solution partly by learning from the decades of experience we have in the generation and distribution of electricity without engaging in a blame game.
So, where do we stand? Tanesco swears that there is currently enough power and to spare, and any talk of power shedding due to scarcity does not make sense. They add: Blame any perceived rationing on dilapidated machinery and supply lines.
The Parliamentary Parastatal Organisations Accounts Committee (POAC) is however far from impressed, stressing that people want reliable power supply and have no time for anyone playing politics.
Tanesco may well have a point in attributing the problem of power outages to decrepit infrastructure disrupting production, transmission and distribution, as well insisting that it is hamstrung unless it lands 1.3 trillion/- for rehabilitation.
But energy sector watchers are left wondering why the company has shown hardly any progress in implementing the Emergency Power Programme tabled in the National Assembly by the Energy and Minerals minister during the 2011/2012 Budget sessions.
It would to the nation a lot of good if more efforts were made to reverse the combined losses the shaky state of the power sector has made Tanesco and the national economy suffer. Politicking could then follow.