Tanzania’s frequent power cuts hamper internet access

Saturday September 24 2022

Tanzania has among the slowest internet speeds in Africa. PHOTO | FILE


Hardly a month after Vodacom launched trials for the 5G technology to speed up usage of internet by enhancing connectivity, Tanzanians are grappling with a key driver of e-commerce — electricity.

Irregular power supply continues to hamper internet services, pushing people to work from places with an assured source of electricity that is not from the main grid.

Read: Dar es Salaam hit by power, water rationing as rivers dry up

Tanzania’s electricity access remains low, at 38 percent, even though it is listed among the fastest growing economies in Africa. Lately, many parts across the country have been experiencing frequent power outages, affecting business operations especially in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco) acting director for customer services Martin Mwambene said drought is the cause of the blackouts, despite the country having other sources of power including gas.

Tanesco said it is targeting alternative sources of power, including wind and solar, to ensure sustainable production. The country has 1,600MW of installed power.


The company is now generating most of its electricity from natural gas at its Kinyerezi and Ubungo stations in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Mwambene said that Ubungo Power Station III is currently generating 112 megawatts (MW), and Kinyerezi III Power Station will add 185 Megawatts to the grid after their completion next year.

A solar power project is now under construction in the Shinyanga region in the Lake Victoria zone to generate 150 Megawatts (MW) of which 50MW is expected by next year.

Tanesco earlier signed an agreement with Dubai based Masdar Company to develop and generate 2,000MW from solar energy.

The frequent power cuts affect Tanzania’s internet speeds.

A report from Ookla, a web service analysis of internet access performance metrics on mobile performance across Sub-Saharan Africa, says Tanzania has among the slowest internet speeds in Africa.

The report shows South Africa, Kenya and Botswana have the fastest median download speeds.

Speedtest Intelligence’s data from Ookla shows that for downloads, Vodacom Tanzania has a speed of 17.08Mbps, and 8.62Mbps for uploads. Airtel Tanzania has 12.89Mbps for downloads, and 9.02Mnps for uploads.

Ookla’s report compared the mobile performance of four operators’ - Airtel, Orange, MTN, and Vodacom - during the second quarter of 2022.

They analysed operations in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria.

In East Africa, Safaricom Kenya has the fastest median download speed at 36.25 Mbps, followed by MTN Uganda at 32.71 Mbps, Airtel Kenya and Airtel Uganda at 28.58 Mbps and 28.48 Mbps, respectively, MTN Rwanda at 23.77 Mbps, and Vodacom Tanzania at 17.08 Mbps. Airtel Rwanda and Airtel Tanzania are at 15.21 Mbps and 12.89 Mbps, respectively.