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Kerosene price increase hurting poor households

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Issue date: 
08 January 2011
Publisher Name: 
The Citizen
Al-amani Mutarubukwa
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Dar es Salaam.  The price of kerosene rose by six per cent effective Wednesday this week as the global economic recovery increases demand for petroleum products.

The new development diminishes options for low income households who have now to struggle with higher electricity tariffs and increased cooking gas prices.

The prices for cooking gas and electricity have also gone up by 20 per cent and 18.5 per cent respectively. And experts say this leaves most households in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres with little choice but to shift to charcoal.

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) this week announced that the prices for kerosene rose to Sh1,370 per litre from Sh1,288 last month.

According to biweekly indicative and cap prices issued by Ewura this week, petrol prices have also risen by 3.41 per cent, diesel (5000ppm) by 5.07 per cent, diesel (500ppm) by 4.94 per cent compared with indicative prices announced on December 22.

Ewura cited the changes in retail fuel prices to have been caused by both increase of the petroleum products in the world market as well as the depreciation of the shilling against the dollar.

The widespread use of cooking gas, kerosene and electricity had started giving hope for a reduction of charcoal use in urban areas. Despite being beyond the financial reach of many urban residents the usage of cooking gas, kerosene and even electricity was starting to get stranglehold.

As part of efforts to encourage a switch from charcoal the government reduces kerosene tax in 2006. But the global economic recovery is pushing oil prices higher thus affecting the kerosene prices in the local market.
Biomass is the major source of household energy in Tanzania but it is also a major threat to deforestation in the country.

Forest loss due to deforestation in Tanzania is estimated at 91,200 ha per annum, of which 60 per cent is a result of Deforestation and forest degradation.
A recent study indicated that Tanzania’s entire forest cover would disappear in about 10 to 16 decades if the current high level of deforestation is not checked.

Currently, Tanzania has 385,000 square kilometres of forest cover, but experts warn that this could disappear fast if measures are not taken to reverse the alarming situation.

According to experts, the wanton felling of trees or burning of forests releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to global warming that could result in increased drought, flooding, poor harvests, water shortages and a growing number of refugees driven from the worst hit areas.

The satellite survey conducted by the American organisation shows that deforestation has more than doubled in recent years from 92,000 hectares (about 920 square kilometres) to 230,000 hectares (2,300 sq km) annually.

The area being denuded of forest cover is larger than most of the biggest districts, including Newala in Mtwara Region, whose size is 2,126 sq km. The situation, government officials are warning is alarming. Dar es Salaam alone, Dr Kilahama said, with a population of five million people, accounted for a sizeable portion of the destruction of forests, as it was consuming 500,000 tonnes of charcoal annually.

“Indeed, we are in trouble,” he said, adding: “People are cutting down trees because they have no alternative. And since the trees can’t run away like animals, they are easy victims.”

A different study conducted by the Dar es Salaam-based Centre for Energy, Environment, Science and Technology (Ceest), estimates that about 70 per cent of the deforestation in Tanzania is due to fuel wood harvests. About 30 per cent of the deforestation, the study adds, is as a result of agricultural land clearing.  

The study says that as the economy grows, the deforestation associated with agricultural land use clearing is expected to rise, increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, and reducing the supply of material traditionally available to provide energy.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut