Power tariffs hike saga: Now Karume enters the fray in Zanzibar -Seeks more info on possible repercussions THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam ZANZIBAR President Amani Abeid Karume has summoned some of his top aides to discuss the new power tariffs increase, it has been revealed. Reports from Zanzibar said Karume beckoned senior officials from the Isles Ministry of Water, Construction, Energy & Lands and the Zanzibar State Fuel and Power Corporation (ZSFPC) to State House there yesterday afternoon. A senior official in the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government told THISDAY by phone from the island that the Isles president had called the officials over to brief him on the recent increase of power tariffs and how it is likely to affect the people of Zanzibar. It is understood that the Minister for Water, Construction, Energy and Lands, Mansour Yussuf Himid, was a prominent presence at the meeting along with ZSFPC General Manager Suleiman Ali Juma and other senior officials. There is a high-level concern within both the Union and Zanzibar Governments that the 21.7 per cent power tariffs hike, announced by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) for implementation by the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO), could have serious social repercussions given already-skyrocketing costs of living. With rising fuel prices already driving up inflation figures, the general thinking is that few Tanzanians will be able to afford the new rates for power connection and consumption. This is like a double-edged sword for the two governments. If the new power tariffs are allowed to be implemented, it could trigger a serious political backlash for those in the seats of leadership. At the same time, if the tariff increase is blocked, the development partners will probably not be very amused, one social analyst told THISDAY. In Zanzibar where economic hardships are more pronounced compared to mainland Tanzania, the government has historically had to subsidise power and water supply to its citizens. This has left the Zanzibar State Fuel and Power Corporation with an accumulation of huge debts and arrears to TANESCO, which has been supplying power to the island through a marine cable. By the first quarter of 2006, the Zanzibar power companys accumulated debts and arrears to TANESCO stood at a staggering 19bn/-, according to official figures. Just two years ago, the Zanzibar Government hiked power tariffs by 25 per cent, citing soaring operational costs incurred by ZSFPC. The marine cable linking Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland was laid in 1979 with a capacity of 45 megawatts, but so far Zanzibar uses only 30 megawatts. Zanzibars main island of Unguja gets its main electricity supply from Tanzania mainlands national power grid through Fumba area from the Rasikiromoni power station. The smaller Pemba island depends on thermal generators. TANESCO itself has publicly announced that it is experiencing financial haemorrhaging due to the fact that the pre-existing power tariffs were too low, thus causing its operational costs to outstrip actual revenue. Subsequently, TANESCO had applied for a 40 per cent tariffs hike from EWURA, which however, scaled it down to 21.7 per cent. Apart from the tariffs raise, the regulator also gave the greenlight for an increase in service connection fees by between 66 and 215 per cent. According to EWURA, the new power tariffs which were expected to take effect from January 1 this year will enable TANESCO to collect an estimated 56bn/- a year, which should help cover operational and maintenance costs and boost its capacity to generate and supply electricity. Senior officials from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals in Dar es Salaam recently met with their Zanzibar counterparts and EWURA representatives over the new tariffs.