Europe’s energy crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has seen Tanzania coal exports record a seven-fold jump in the year to March due to high demand, the latest central bank data shows.
Tanzania, which has 1.9 billion coal reserves of which 25 percent are proven, saw its exports of fossil fuel surge to $223.8 million.
“Exports of coal edged up to $223.8 million from $31.9 million, induced by rising demand for alternative energy, amid supply challenges caused by the war in Ukraine,” the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) says in its Monthly Economic Review for April 2023.
The resurgent coal demand has also seen the once sleepy port of Mtwara enjoying unprecedented operations and the government collecting sizeable revenues from the exports.
Mtwara Port manager Norbert Kalembwe said that from July 2022 to March this year, they have shipped nearly 1.5 million tonnes of cargo, with coal accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total.
The coal demand, as governments try to wean themselves off Russian gas, has clashed with plans to shift to clean energy.
The head of the European Union Delegation to Tanzania, Manfredo Fanti, recently said that the volume of Tanzanian coal exports to Europe is expected to decline in a few years on account of the EU’s policy on carbon emissions.
“In the short-term and with the effect of the war, the EU has increased its import in coal, but we shouldn’t expect that to last in the next few years to come,” he said.
European countries aim to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, marking a stop to coal usage.1