The crucial feature in this projection is that natural gas home users will be free from paying connection fees, in which case there will be no hurdle to be crossed – the sort that often requires plenty of mobilisation, marketing, advertising, etc. This policy stance will give an excellent dynamic to connect many homes with gas, in a few years.
Energy minister Dr Medard Kalemani noted in a speech recently in Lindi that the decision has a welfare aspect to it, that it is meant to ensure that everyone benefits from the country’s discovery and exploitation of the resource.
After the free connection is made, it will be up to the domestic user to purchase gas in a prepaid manner as with electricity, instead of having clerks chasing bills for months on end.
But it will not be as mentally taxing as with LUKU (prepaid) users for electricity, as the minister and top TPDC officials say using natural gas will be far cheaper than using charcoal.
There is no doubt that quick experience will demonstrate to residents where the gas pipeline connection would have been made that using the resource will reduce costs for cooking energy as prices are expected to be cheaper than charcoal or the gas that is sold in tanks.
This will as an auxiliary help to protect the environment from felling trees for charcoal, but this has to be taken up with mitigation, as researchers say it is expanding agriculture rather than charcoal burning which puts forests under threat. The net benefit is reduced harassment and pain for women at home.
The broad plan is to use natural gas power in industrial operations, fertiliser production, cooking and the running of vehicles.
This shall steeply diminish costs of importing fuel products, which isn’t a burning issue at the moment owing to rock-bottom oil prices arising from intense competition between producing countries widening production and importing countries under pressure to adopt greener energy.
It is with some stammer that one contemplates the wider public using natural gas that is 40 per cent cheaper than charcoal, on the basis of estimates cited by the minister.
As charcoal is a product that every household must purchase unless it fully uses liquefied natural gas in tanks or even electricity for cooking, quoting natural gas equivalent user value at 40 per cent less than the charcoal price means the whole country will shift, more or less rapidly. That is at is should be.
It isn’t easy to improve on remarks by Lindi regional commissioner Godfrey Zambi to the effect that many people spend a lot of money on charcoal while women and girls spend hours searching for firewood in the bush.
Let us now move to the safer energy source, he aptly declared, underlining that shifting to natural gas is an act of emancipation for those going into the bush to seek firewood.
This ought to be done even before taking note of the lower costs that is a massive relief and a reason to shift to natural gas. It leaves women with more time even to look at children’s lessons.