The Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment) Mussa Zungu said yesterday that a city family would be able to spend 600/- only on gas and cook a meal for five persons in a planned scheme to make urbanites switch from use of charcoal to gas.
This follows an initiative made by as German firm, Circle Gas to invest in household use gas business in East African cities and towns, starting with Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.
Zungu was talking to journalists after discussions with the Managing Director of the Circle Gas, Volker Schultz, who called on him at his Dar es Salaam office.
“Absolutely, gas is far cheaper than charcoal,” the minister affirmed, welcoming the company’s investment proposal, noting however that education and a public awareness campaign would be necessary to make many people switch from charcoal to gas.
“As a country we have encouraged use of alternative energy as the only way we can protect forests and the environment. We have taken several steps together with environment stakeholders,” the minister said.
He said the use of charcoal increased enormously because of the rising population. “Tree felling has increased sharply. Latest studies show that over two million tonnes of charcoal are used annually for cooking. This has a very negative effect on environment,” he said.
While the scheme had not yet started, once talks were concluded phase one of the implementation of the project would start in Dar es Salaam, benefiting at least 10,000 residents.
“We shall be happy if this scheme will take off because over 90 of city residents are dependent on charcoal,” he said.
The initiative has an element of postponing payment for the stove and metre in the first 18 months and only pay for gas on the basis of consumption, he said.
Schultz said their company’s long-term plan was to make urban dwellers mostly use gas for the good of the environment. The company’s current focus was on cities like Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, as they are the major markets for charcoal and gas is easily accessible, he added.