The Arusha-based East African Community is currently working towards building a giant regional pipeline that will transport natural gas from Dar-es-Salaam to the Kenyan city of Mombasa via Tanga.
Speaking in Arusha, the EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Dr Nyamajeje Calleb-Weggoro, said the target is to again connect the pipeline with another trunk linking Mombasa and Kampala and later on to build the Kampala to Kigali and Bujumbura line to complete the cycle.
Recent discoveries of natural gas in deep sea have raised the total gas reserves in Tanzania to over 7.5 trillion cubic feet, volumes sufficient to allow Tanzania to export both natural gas and electricity throughout the EAC Region and beyond and still remain with enough reserves.
The feasibility study for the Natural Gas Pipeline Dar es Salaam - Tanga - Mombasa was initiated back in July 2010 under the execution of the Danish consulting firm, COWI in association with COWI Tanzania and Runji and Partners Consulting Engineers Limited of Kenya.
The African Development Bank supported the EAC by financing the study through a grant of 561,700 US dollars under the New Partnership for African Development Infrastructure Project Preparatory Facility (NEPAD-IPPF).
In another development, the EAC intends to build an oil refinery in Uganda and expand the one in Kenya, ready for the proposed project to pump the oil discovered in Uganda and Kenya through similar pipeline network around East Africa.
The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community provides for the joint exploration and development of the resources found in the region for the economic development of the Community in order to improve the quality of life for the people.
It is in this context that various initiatives are being undertaken under the auspices of the EAC to implement projects and programmes aimed at increasing access to high quality, reliable and cost effective energy services throughout the region.
One such initiative is the EAC Power Master Plan meant to tackle the energy constraints to business operations and households in a more holistic manner.One of the strategies being employed in the Plan is the diversification of energy sources and supply.
In terms of diversification, partner States are looking into the optional use of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Likewise, the inter-connectivity of the national Grids of EAC partner States and the Southern Africa Power Pool is being implemented.
The availability of adequate, reliable and affordable energy happens to be one of the prerequisites for socio-economic development in the East African Community as it facilitates activities in all sectors of the economy.
It is reported that the inadequate, unreliable and expensive energy in the region has been a major constraint since it hampered economic growth through increased costs of doing business and as a result, the competitiveness of local firms is lower compared with those from Asia and the Far East.