Energy, Jobs and Skills: A rapid assessment of potential in Mtwara, Tanzania

Special Paper 09.32, Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

This study considers the importance of the energy sector as a facilitator of productive growth and job creation particularly for youth. It begins by briefly reviewing national policies in the sector, including the introduction of several new Acts of Parliament, the expansion of electricity generating capacity, and the establishment of a Rural Energy Agency to encourage innovation and expansion. These macro level changes are then examined for their impact on productivity and jobs at the local level in Mtwara, the region where the most significant deposits of natural gas originate.

The research highlights the labour shortages of electricians in Mtwara, and warns of the potential shortages nationally that are likely to become acute as the national electricity grid expands. These shortages are the result of skills gaps which will require concerted effort to address in education and training systems to meet labor demands. In Mtwara, quality training is scarce and vocational training needs improvements linked to apprenticeships in order to enable young people to directly gain from jobs in this growing sector. Policy-makers should gain from this study as an illustration of the mutual re-enforcing nature of growth drivers (e.g. energy) and social sectors (e.g. education) for development.

The limited reduction in poverty in Tanzania during this decade is in part the result of limited job growth especially in formal employment, as well as a consequence of low productivity. Addressing these will require strategic decisions that cross individual sector boundaries and address the need for the Tanzanian labour force to keep pace with new market demands, including those emerging from the expansion of electrification.