Grid Electricity Expansion in Tanzania: Findings from a Rigorous Impact Evaluation (Issue Brief)

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Mar 29, 2017
Arif Mamun, Duncan Chaplin, Ali Protik, John Schurrer, Divya Vohra, Kristine Bos, Hannah Burak, Laura Meyer, and Anca Dumitrescu

Key Findings:

  • The line extensions led to a large number of new connections, but it was less than one-third of the 35,000 connections assumed at the outset.
  • The low-cost–connection offers also increased connection rates, but even if all communities received low-cost-connection offers, the number of connections originally assumed would still not have been achieved.
  • The line extensions had no clear impacts on the overall amount of energy used by households, the number of hours children studied at night, whether the household operated any income-generating activity (IGA), non-electricity consumption, and in- or out-migration. However, line extensions increased consumption of grid electricity, ownership of electric appliances, time spent watching television, operation of an IGA that used grid electricity, and perceived household safety.
  • The low-cost–connection offers increased electricity use and ownership of electric appliances, worsened health outcomes, and had no clear impacts on the likelihood of operating an IGA, or on non-electricity consumption; however, the offers reduced poverty as measured by per capita consumption.
  • Being actually connected to the grid increased children’s hours of studying at night, but it increased TV watching much more; being connected also increased income and increased the likelihood of operating an electrified IGA and reduced poverty.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s energy-sector project was designed to promote economic growth and curb poverty in Tanzania. Mathematica conducted an evaluation of two project components: impacts of building new lines to the electricity grid; and outcomes from offering low-cost-connections to households in a subset of communities. The evaluation revealed that connecting households to the national electric grid may reduce poverty in Tanzania, but low connection rates make this service costly to provide.