Beginning in November of 2017, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) through it’s local partner in Tanzania OMDTZ performed a mapping exercise to support the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) ambition to increase access to electricity for Tanzanian people by providing data useful for Distributed Electrification Services Companies (DESCOs) to prioritize areas appropriate for Mini-Grid electrification.

HOT worked as part of a consortium including Integration, a non-profit European consultancy specializing in energy and the Reiner Lemoine Institut (RLI), an NGO dedicated to promoting sustainable energy.

Prior to, and during, the project, workshops were held to solicit input and feedback from the expected data users (DESCOs) and important stakeholders such as the Tanzanian Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The mapping consisted of digitizing buildings from existing aerial and satellite imagery, and performing field visits to selected villages and households.

An overview of what was done

  • 4.1 Million buildings were digitized, bringing the OpenStreetMap building database in Tanzania to a total of 8.7M buildings (of an estimated 18.6M structures in the country). Digitized areas were selected based on the prioritization performed by Catherina Cader of the RLI. Several large areas of existing settlements remain undigitized in Tanzania, but for the most part those within the areas identified by RLI as most likely appropriate for Mini-Grid electrification have been completed.

  • 1,928 settlements were surveyed (just over 2,000 settlements were visited, but approximately 100 data rows had to be discarded during data cleaning due to errors).

  • 7,722 individual building structures were visited, in approximately 40 different communities around the country, to collect data on household energy use, economic indicators, and to ground truth the digitization.

The project was completed in June of 2018, and the data handed over to the IFC, the Tanzanian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and a number of DESCOs. Training workshops were held for both DESCOs and official agencies, the REA and NBS, to facilitate the effective use of the data.