In her budget speech to parliament yesterday, Minister of Finance, Saada Mkuya Salim, gave some positive figures on access to electricity in Tanzania. Between 2011 and 2014, she said, access to electricity increased from 7% to 36% (see page 44).
The figure made it onto the front page of Mwananchi newspaper.
Numbers that don’t sound plausible are worth checking out, especially when presented by politicians. So I decided to check the sources.
As the Minister’s speech does not give references, I looked around to see what data I could find. Limiting myself to the last 5 years, I found data from NBS household surveys, the World Bank, the recent Africa Progress Report on electricity in Africa, and from the Big Results Now annual report for 2014. Here it all is, roughly in time order, and including the figures from the budget speech (in green) and the BRN target for 2016 (in orange):
More details of each source can be found here.
- There’s a lot of variation in these figures – even those collected through household surveys.
- It seems very unlikely that the 2011 figure in the budget speech can be accurate – all the surveys reported higher levels of access than this.
- It seems very unlikely that the 2014 figure in the budget speech can be accurate – it is well beyond any of the survey data shown here and would mean that the BRN target for 2016 has already been met by some distance.
- Nevertheless, just looking at the blue bars, there is some (inconclusive) evidence here that access to electricity is indeed increasing.