WB’s ‘Backbone’ project becomes engine of growth to Arusha locals

23Jun 2016
Mashaka Mgeta
The Guardian
WB’s ‘Backbone’ project becomes engine of growth to Arusha locals

JOHN Akyoo, a resident of Sing’isi village, Arumeru district in Arusha region had never thought that his family would one day own and run a business, hover his dream has come to reality, thanks to World Bank (WB) financed project on electricity his dream has come true.

TANESCO Project Manager (transmission and distribution) Engineer Emmanuel Manirabona (second right) briefs journalists on issues related to KIA substation in Kilimanjaro region.

The WB funded projects include Tanzania Energy Development and Access Project (TEDAP) and Backbone.

TEDAP’s objective is to improve the quality and efficiency of the electricity service provision and to establish a sustainable basis for energy access expansion and renewable energy development in Tanzania.

Backbone interconnector project is part of the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) national grid reinforcement strategy and will provide access to cost-efficient electricity essential for private sector development in the country.

“I have experienced a kind of life where my family depended much on peasant farming, cultivating food crops at a small land outside the municipal and sell part of it to get money which was used to pay for school fees and other family needs,” Akyoo told The Guardian recently at his residence.

But Akyoo’s family life has changes when Sing’isi residents started to access electricity, being a result of KIA substation and transmission line from the center based in Kilimanjaro to Arusha.

With the WB’s financial support, the KIA substation capacitated to receive 132kv from Kiyungi and cooling to 33kv which is transmitted to Arusha for the industry and household consumptions whereby, Akyoo became among the thousands of beneficiaries.

After being connected and accessing electricity, Akyoo accumulated capital of about 1.5 m/- and established a retail shop, selling some food stuffs, drinking water, soft drinks, milk and juice.

He disclosed that drinks were the most sold products and make a big profit, part of which was used to meet his family needs.

“Since I was connected and accessing electricity, my family life has changes from depending on peasant and now running a shop which gives me a net profit of up to 500,000/- a month,” he said.

He added; “With this kind of life, I’m not worried about incurring expenses like paying school fees for my children or affording health services, before connected to the electricity I could not manage it.”

With a population of about 3.32 million people (2012 census) Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions are currently accessing reliable electricity that transforming their social economy and capacitates them to embark on small and medium scale industries.

The World Bank (WB) funded project of constructing electricity substations and transmission lines in regions of Kilimanjaro and Arusha, as well as Singida, Iringa, Dodoma and Shinyanga did not only touch the energy sector, but also created various opportunities like job creation and income generating activities.

Many people living around the project areas have been experiencing extreme poverty, but after the completion of the electricity projects, most of them were engaged in different economic ventures.


Some areas in Arusha and Kilimanjaro businessmen were invested in various ventures, but the power problems like frequent cut offs and sharing put them in low production and high running costs.

Julius Urassa, a Supervisor in charge of the Ravji Aggregated Company Limited located at Arumeru District, Arusha region, says before the completion of KIA substation, the flow of electricity was worst to the extent that affected their daily production.`

"Before the newly constructed KIA substation, the flow of electricity was not so good, with unexpectedly power cut off and sometimes sharing, therefore affect our production; but at least we have a reliable electricity at these days,” he noted.

Urassa disclosed that now as he is accessing reliable electricity, his company produces 100 tons of gravels compared to earlier production which ranged between 40 to 60 tons a day.

A brick maker at Maji ya Chai Street in Arusha, Hans Said, spoke of increasing production as a result of having reliable electricity supply from KIA substation.

Said says his small scale factory could now serve his clients and meets their needs in time, with an increasing production from 700 bricks to 2,000 a day selling a brick at 1,200/-.

The regular power cuts was not only affecting local people in business, but also TANESCO itself because it was not collecting the enough money from the people. He said now Said was spending 50,000/- a week when electricity is available.

“During that time we used to pay this amount and would spend weeks because of power cuts. TANESCO was losing a lot,” he expressed.


The Tanesco Regional Manager in Arusha, Engineer Gaspar Msigwa, noted that the WB funded project aimed to improve the cooling and transmission systems of electricity from various sources, the two being Kiyungi (Kilimanjaro) and Arusha.

Engineer Msigwa said the construction of the KIA substation costly 7m USD was initiated in 2011 and completed in 2013.

According to Engineer Msigwa, before the WB’s funded project, Tanesco used to transmit electricity from Kiyungi in Kilimanjaro to some parts of Arusha used the old and ‘tired’ facilities which caused a lot of energy loss.

“As the transmission, before completion of KIA substation took a long way from Kiyungi to Arusha, was resulting to the huge wastage of electricity and therefore caused regular power cut off or sharing,” he noted.

Engineer Msigwa exposed that from the time of KIA operates in 2013 more than 89,000 new clients were connected and enjoying reliable electricity within the Arusha municipal.

He said with this increasing number of clients, TANESCO has managed to collect 9bn/-compared to the previous collections which were approximately eight billion shillings per month.


Meanwhile the transmission project from Iringa, Dodoma, Singida to Shinyanga, commonly known as backbone, with the capacity of 400 kilovolts funded by various development partners includes WB was expected to be completed by September this year.

Among the financing institutions is the WB, with its support allocated for the project implement on the construction of substations and transmission from Iringa to Dodoma.

The Project Manager who oversees construction of stations, Engineer James Mtei says the project was costing more than US $ 224m which is approximately to 387.5 bn/`.

Apart from a section from Iringa to Dodoma, the entire project covers 670 kilometers transmission line and electronic substations from Dodoma to Singida and Shinyanga respectively.

Mtei says a WB financed 225-kilometre transmission line from Iringa to Dodoma has been completed to 99 percent, hence pending the trial and official handling to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) by the end of this month.

Re allocation

However, as the project involved transmission lines from region to another, there was no way than to take land from the local communities.

Fortunately the national laws and policies had observed and those who affected were re-allocated and paid compensation accordingly.

Most of the compensated households and public facilities like health centers, cemeteries, churches, ward offices and police substations, managed to put higher and quality facilities.

Yona Lubanwa is a resident of the former Goba hamlet and currently Muungano street, was among the people who re-allocated and compensated for the Backbone project.

He had two grass huts which could not make his family be comfortable especially during rain sessions.

But the compensation from the WB’s funded project enabled him to receive 20 m/- which used to build a modern and permanent house with four bedding, setting and kitchen rooms.

“My family members with support from our relatives did some construction work like making bricks. We have managed to finish this beautiful house we never thought of,” he disclosed.

Economic transformation

The Consultant Joachim Reuber from a Fitchner Company says the project was at a final stage before handling over to the government, though there was some minor mistakes to be improved before the end of this month.

“This sector especially when you are dealing with such kind of projects, even if you find minor mistakes you can’t proceed with the handling correcting them,” he says.

He noted that for the country to have many resources with economic activities is meaningless if the energy sector will not be improved.

According to Reuber, energy was the main source in implementing value added chain to the various business products and in agriculture in particular.

“This country has many resources which need energy to be utilized properly. With the WB’s funded project Tanzanians especially local communities are going to witness big changes in their lives,” he says.

Reuber says while Tanzania like other developing countries which aspire for industrialization, it is important that it invests in affordable electricity to make things go.

Iringa was among places where settlements were reallocated to pave way for electricity transmission.

The compensation made people to build modern and permanent houses together with small industries in Arusha region.

The Chief Energy Engineer from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Salum Inegeja explained that the Backbone project was part of a regional integration initiatives to connect the electricity network from Kenya through Arusha, Singida, Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya and Zambia.