Crowdsourcing to evaluate and improve electricity supply in Tanzania

Tanzania faces energy access challenges and experiences issues with electricity unreliability in the form of frequent power deficits and blackouts. Based on 2012 figures, 6 power system blackouts caused a total outage duration of 20.3 hours. This translates to approximately 1 day of productivity and related economic losses per year. Companies and household enterprises experience up to 8.9 power outages per month, hampering economic activities. Despite their pervasiveness, quality and reliability issues are not captured in traditional access indicators which focus on physical grid connections. This means that the severity of the energy access challenge and its implications on human development and economic productivity are misrepresented. Furthermore, there is no independent source of data with which the government or citizens can monitor service quality or hold decision makers and utilities accountable for their decisions and performance.

This project, the Electricity Supply Monitoring Initiative (ESMI), aims to gather data at the customer level to keep track of electricity service quality and reliability, and use this data to start a conversation on how to improve customer experience. ESMI in Tanzania is being piloted in Dar es Salaam districts, gathering a year’s worth of data and is being led by the Energy Change Lab – a program of Hivos and the International Institute for Environment and Development. The Energy Change Lab works in Tanzania with pioneers and change-makers to create an energy system that is sustainable and people-centred. It does this by developing leaders, incubating prototypes, connecting people, sharing ideas, and building evidence – including the pilot Dar es Salaam ESMI database. ESMI, initially created by Prayas (Energy Group) and championed by the World Resources Institute (WRI), is also being piloted in India, Indonesia, and Kenya. Evaluation of service reliability can be used to analyse electricity access from a multi-dimensional perspective. The evaluation of service reliability can also be used by citizens and decision makers to adequately characterise the electricity access deficit that exists, and inform decision making processes such as the National Power System Master Plan.