An estimated 90 percent of Tanzania’s energy consumption is coming from wood fuels. Charcoal is the single largest source of household energy in urban areas as it considered as cheap and easy to transport, distribute and store. Between 2001-2007, the proportion of households in Dar es Salaam using charcoal raised from 47 percent to 71 percent. Approximately half of Tanzanian annual consumption of charcoal race in Dar es Salaam amounting to approximately 5000,000 tones.
Data indicates consumption level is highly susceptible to increase in the near future due to rapid population growth, continued urbanization and increases in price for fossil-fuels alternative energy sources such as gas and electricity. These trends will apply particularly to the urban center of Dar es Salaam due to low income, using alternative fuels will only be an option to those better off households but even among those economic groups, socio-cultural aspects will still result in the consumption of charcoal. Considering this, the charcoal sector need to be reviewed and ran in sustainable and modern manners.
Although some wood for charcoal is harvested from forest reserves under license from the Government, bulky is harvested illegally from both reserved and unreserved forests on village land or on farmland. In such situations little attention is given to consideration of sustainable harvesting or longer term forest management objectives. Continual unregulated tree removal result in deforestation and forest degradation.
This in turn has a negative impact on the protection of water catchments and watersheds affecting energy and water supplies. Given facts that more than 70% of charcoal is harvested illegally with little or no payments to authorities concerned, the cost of charcoal to the consumer does not reflect its real value.
These low payments' implication is to undermine any efforts made by producers or traders to comply with the law by paying all licenses and levies to invest in efficiency saving such as improving conversion technology, long-term sustainable forest management, or establishment of plantations and woodlots without improving the regulatory and fiscal frameworks of the sector, the market price of legal and sustainably produced charcoal will always be underestimated by unregulated and unsustainable products.
Significant changes need to be introduced to regularize and legalise the currently informal charcoal production industry. This will require a major shift both inside and outside government with regard to how charcoal is viewed almost entirely negatively and as a result prevailing policies and laws tend to focus on regulation, enforcement, restriction and where possible moving away from the sector altogether to other energy sources. This perception will need to be changed and instead a more enabling environment channels to allow for responsible, sustainable and profitable enterprises to flourish within the sector.
Which, if this implemented would lead to an increased formalization of the charcoal sector, changing the regulatory fiscal and pricing framework includes introducing fiscal incentives that reward sustainably produced charcoal and place additional costs on that which is illegally produced. Also for the system to be successful, the government would need to strengthen its capacity for monitoring and enforcement of rules and regulations regarding both transport and trade of charcoal.
Lina James – YET 2011