The electricity supply in Tanzania and what style of plug is used in East Africa

Hand holding a three-pin plug as used in TanzaniaIn this section we look at the type of electricity supply used to power Tanzania. If we’re being honest, few people are interested in this, and even fewer people understand what it all means anyway. But lots of people ask what is the best and most common style of adaptor or plug for Tanzania that people should bring for their visit.

We deal with that question below. But first, let’s look at the electricity supply used by Tanzania.

What is the electricity supply in Tanzania?

Tanzania is powered by a 250V, 50 cycles, AC network. Those bringing electrical items from home may wish to invest in a power breaker. Tanzania’s electricity supply can be erratic on occasions, and power surges could seriously impair the efficacy of your electrical instruments, if not melt them altogether.

What is the most common type of plug in Tanzania?

Plugs and sockets vary in style, though by far the most common are the British three-square-pin sockets (see picture); European two-round-pin style sockets are a distant second now.

You can also occasionally, particularly in the more remote areas, find two-pin plug styles (both European and US styles). But they’re rare now, and getting rarer. So if you’re coming from somewhere that doesn’t use the UK-style three-pin plugs, make sure you bring an adaptor!

You may be able to find such an adaptor in Bensons in Arusha or, more likely, in one of the local markets in the city that sells electrical goods. But there’s no guarantee about this.

Given the variable nature of Tanzania’s power supply, it would also be a good idea to buy an adaptor with some sort of surge protection. True, Tanzania’s electricity supply is more renowned for disappearing completely rather than being too strong. But as with all variable power supplies, power surges do occasionally happen – and given how expensive many electronic gadgets are, it makes sense to play it safe.

Some readers also recommend bringing a multi-plug adaptor, to allow you to charge up more than one item at a time. Given that the rooms in many hotels are fitted with just one socket, that’s not a bad idea – though the hotels won’t thank me for saying so.

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