The Tanzanian government has announced an initiative to get solar power to one million homes by the end of 2017. It is expected that achieving this goal will also create about 15,000 solar jobs and create solar power for about 10% of Tanzania’s population. About 80% of Tanzania’s citizens currently use candles and kerosene for light. Both of these light sources can cause fires, which injure and even kill people each year. They are also quite polluting and bad for people’s health.
The quality of light from kerosene or candles is also not exactly of the best quality, meaning it can be difficult to read with. Students can’t study as long as they need to under such conditions and adults can’t read extensively.
“We know Tanzanians will flourish with access to clean and reliable light and electricity access. In partnership partnership with Off Grid Electric, our country can lead the way toward universal energy access by 2030,” explained Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete.
The solar company Off Grid Electric Ltd. will implement the program, which is also supported by USAID, OPIC, IFC, and Sunfunder. Off Grid allows Tanzanian customers to get solar power technology for payments as little as 20 cents a month. Many Tanzanians pay a considerable amount for their energy, so allowing them to pay less for solar is great while also allowing them to get clean, affordable, safer, and better quality lighting. Over $100 million will be invested to make the project a success.
The first phase is $7 million for solar power in northern Tanzania for 100,000 homes and businesses.
“Having served as the US Ambassador to Tanzania, I’ve seen how improving access to electricity can empower vulnerable communities to escape a cycle of extreme poverty. By harnessing innovation to implement scalable, low-cost solutions, we can bring clean, renewable energy to Tanzania’s most vulnerable communities,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt.
Wood and charcoal are used extensively in Tanzania for cooking fires, but burning wood constantly contributes to deforestation. Cooking fires don’t only cause burns and larger, destructive fires. Cooking fire smoke also can, and in many cases does, cause respiratory illness.
Most Tanzanians live in rural areas, where there is not consistent access to electricity. Solar power does not require a grid to function, so it is a good solution in these areas.
The 1 million solar homes project is ambitious, but certainly is achievable. It will also make a huge difference in the lives of many Tanzanians.
Image Credit: Tanzania by William Warby, via Wiki Commons
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