Solar Panels – the future of electricity in Tanzania

Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for success.

Tanzania has the largest population in East Africa, estimated at 52,482,726, with a very high annual population growth rate of 2.77%. 31.6% of the population lives in an urban area, leaving an estimated 35,897,237 people residing in rural areas. Access to improved drinking water sources is available to 55.6% of the total population, with just about 3/4 of these people living in urban areas. 46.8% of Tanzanians have unimproved drinking water sources, the majority of which reshopside in rural areas. With regards to improved sanitation facilities, 15.6% of the population utilizes them, leaving 84.4% of Tanzanians with access to solely unimproved sanitation facilities.

Access to safe drinking water and the use of improved sanitation facilities are used as measurements for the development and overall well being of a country. Improved drinking water sources include piped household water collection, as well as access to protected dug wells, springs, and rainwater collection. Unimproved drinking water sources are unprotected dug wells and springs, along with bottled water and tankered truck water.

598351_10151100231971930_978032409_n-300x199Compared to the world average of 89% of the total population having access to improved drinking water, Tanzania has fallen majorly behind. While taking into account the use of improved sanitation facilities as a means for measuring development, Tanzania also lacks due to the fact that the majority of the population is not able to ensure hygienic separation of human excretion from human contact. Finally, just over 75% of Tanzanians live without electricity, and rely on toxic kerosene or diesel generators for lighting.

Current National Grid and Electricity Access

The current national power grid in Tanzania is summarized as inefficient because of its inability to provide power to the majority of the population. Powered by fossil fuels and hydroelectric, the lines exist in the northern and eastern part of the country and sparsely in the south, but are nonexistent in the more rural west. Increased access to the national grid is at the extremely slow growth rate of 1% per year. Furthermore, in many cases people whose homes are connected to the national grid still do not receive electricity. With the expansion of the national grid, many site unreliable energy supplies and poor quality of supply as great problems. Furthermore, it is expensive to extend the national grid and distribution systems due to a lack of government funding.

charcoalOver three quarters of the population live without access to electricity, and many Tanzanians rely on charcoal for cooking and firewood collection. Currently, one of the largest threats to deforestation in Tanzania is the collection of firewood for fuel. In addition to this, the dirty smoke emitted from charcoal fires leads to many chest and lung problems. Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for  success. This takes into account the fact that shopkeepers have to close their doors early due to a lack of light, schools can not operate outside of daylight hours, and many medical facilities have to send patients to farther locations for certain tests and operations.

A Solution for Developmentsolarpanel

Off-grid solar panels are small and durable. They are able to manage enough power to charge cell phones, lights, and other basic necessities. The main advantage to off-grid solar panels is their flexibility, both geographically and economically. Off- grid solar panels can also be implemented into improved drinking water consumption through solar water purifiers and well systems with solar powered pumps. Solar panel cookers will also help reduce the use of nonrenewable fuel sources, therefore greatly improving Tanzanians standard of living.

The environmental advantages of implementing solar panels are enumerable. Tanzania  has the unique opportunity to rapidly reduce the amount of nonrenewable energy sources, by going directly to a solar powered future. With their rapidly growing population a new market of energy consumption will emerge that could be completely fulfilled through solar panels, as opposed to largely contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Solar is dropping in price and beginning to compete with nonrenewable forms of energy. The World Bank energy data states that it costs 20 cents per kilowatt hour for solar, compared to 25 cents for fuel.

Implementation

img_3075Utilizing smaller off-grid solar panels fits the budgets of rural Tanzanians. People can put the money that would have originally been spent on fuel to finance their solar systems. Microfinance organisations are now  lending to allow householders to buy solar panels. The total installation
of the average off-grid solar panel can cost up to $1,000. However, locals are able to pay smaller installments through their mobile phones in order to eventually cover the entire cost. Payments such as these average around 20c a day, or can be made into larger monthly installments.

Establishing off-grid solar panel networks also offers a plethora of employment opportunities to locals. Over the next decade it is predicted that the renewable energy sector will become one of the largest employers in Africa. The leading seller of off-grid solar panels is creating on average 40 new jobs per month. Companies such as Solar Sister are offering more opportunities to women, and developing communities through leveling gender inequality. Furthermore, off-grid systems often utilize existing means of transportation to get their product to rural areas. The local jobs created through installation and equipment distribution are greatly adding to the development of Tanzania.

Challengessolarpack

As with any new program challenges will arise. The main concern for new solar panel companies is being able to secure their loan payments from customers. This can be achieved through mobile payments, which allow financiers to receive small regular pay installments. After paying the installation fee, customers are able to continue to pay for the rest of the total over time. This ensures that lenders will not lose money, because they are able to remotely lock and unlock the solar panel systems, based on the customer’s repayments. Offering the option to lease the solar panels further enhances the customer’s willingness to pay the smaller fees, while allowing lenders to have collateral. With nearly every Tanzanian having access to a cell phone, mobile payments for solar panels is an effective solution.

Sustainable operation of the solar panels is another issue that must be addressed initially. In order to have a sustainable operation it is important to establish infrastructure within the locations that the solar panels will be used. In order to cut costs, it is viable to use already
existing modes of transportation to deliver the product. Various solar panel companies have installed trackers in their products, ensuring that the panels reach their destination while traveling through third party delivery systems such as trains, city buses, and local delivery people.

Maintenance must be upheld through the education of local employees. While training local people on the installation and upkeep of the solar panels, awareness of the product would also expand. This would in turn create more jobs and boost local Tanzanian economies. Overall, when the solar panel companies work with local citizens they not only save money, but help the development of the country.

There are many new innovations with regards to anti theft lock devices for solar panels. These lock devices can be bought separately, or included in the initial solar panel purchase, and often consist of bolts or locks to secure each individual solar panel. Through the expansion of more secure solar panels, the reduction in stolen products will be significant, and the security of investments greatly improved.

small-solarThe final problem is managing parts of the solar panels after they are no longer functional. The biggest issue is recycling old GEL-type, lead type, and smaller lithium type batteries. Dar es Salaam City alone produces around 3,000 tons of waste per day. With this in mind, recycling old products is important to the environmental sustainability of installing solar panels.

The Recycler, Tanzania’s main source of recycling, is able to collect and store electronic waste. Getting a local organisation such as this would be a convenient option. In addition to this, there are a few international organisations that do work on recycling unusable products of solar panels. Companies such as PV Cycle are operating on a non-profit business model worldwide. They often establish global markets, and may prove to be useful in recycling solar panel batteries in Tanzania.

Furthermore, the implementation of solar panels and their usage of batteries could open a new market in Tanzania, one focused on the recycling of solar panel products. This market could be very profitable, as well as extremely environmentally conscious, because around 90% of the material recovered from solar panels and their batteries can be recycled into useful products.

Current Funding

Most solar panel organisations have received funding from a variety of sources. The Rural Energy Agency of Tanzania, operating under the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, works to promote access to modern energy in rural locations throughout the country. They provide resources for grants, technical assistance, and financial assistance in the form of investments for different renewable energy projects. This agency spends approximately $400million a year on supporting various clean energy sources.

International donors also help offset the cost of development and installation of solar panels throughout Tanzania. Organisations such as the World Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID Development Innovation Ventures Program, and The International Finance Corporation have made major investments in this growing industry. The IFC has so far provided $7 million in order to reach over 100,000 households in Tanzania. Private international investors all around the world are beginning to see the profits in investing in solar panel technology. In 2014 more than $45 million was invested by private investment companies in the off-grid solar sector, and that number has continued to grow.

As a result of the numerous ways in which solar panels will help with the development of Tanzania, and in line with the ever growing globalization of our world, it is clear that investing and supporting off-grid solar panels is a profitable and worthy venture.

Text: Stephanie Gray
Environmental Sustainability Intern, Art in Tanzania

Photos: Marjut Valtanen

Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/assessing.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/only-14-of-tanzanians-have-electricity-what-can-be-done

http://www.cgap.org/sites/default/files/Brief-Digitally-Financed-Energy-Mar-2016.pdf

http://www.pvcycle.org/services/global/

http://phys.org/news/2014-08-recycling-batteries-solar-cells.html

http://rea.go.tz/Projects/TheRuralEnergyFund/tabid/150/Default.aspx

http://fortune.com/2015/12/22/off-grid-solar-africa-booming/

Donations to An-Nabawiya Nursery School

school2 SebastienBeunA small nursery in the village of Fuoni, pronounced An – na – Ba – wee –yah, built in 2012 by Ms Asia Issa Jecha and Mr Hassan Mwinyi kombo as part of a women’s project.

The school is run by 6 local teachers who devote their time from 07:30 in the morning to 12:00pm, five days a week, in order to help educate the young local children. The school initially had 93 students and now have at least 100 local children who attend the nursery for free. The nursery building is also used from 19:00 to 20:00 for private tuition classes; these are held by different teachers.

teaching3-SebastienBeunThe children learn English, Maths, Science, Swahili, Arabic, Art and Religious Studies. Art in Tanzania have been involved with the nursery since 2014 and have provided a total number of 10 volunteers who have helped teach the children and also assisted the local teachers, by, for example, providing them with one to one English lessons.

The first day we visited the nursery was to deliver four benches that were kindly donated by a former Swedish volunteer; altogether there are four classrooms, however, all four of the benches were placed in one classroom. The aim is to fill all four classrooms with these little benches so that all of the children can benefit and enjoy learning in a comfortable environment. All the children wanted to sit on them and were extremely excited and happy with the generous donation.

When we went to visit the nursery again, we spoke to the head teacher, Mrs Latifa Mahfoudh, a stunning and pleasant woman who you could see loved working with the children and had always had a passion for teaching; we sat down and had a long chat at about the nursery and what her ambitions were for the nursery and its students.

Latifa pointed out some of the improvements to the actual building that needed to be carried out; a new roof was needed as the current one leaked, new windows were needed as well as a more stable and safer wall/fence around the parameters of the school with a gate, in order to keep the children safe and protected. Two of the classrooms were not plastered so it was impossible to provide a more pleasant environment for the children to learn in, as you can see from the pictures, the classrooms were dark and unpleasant, even with the sun blazing outside. The nursery also needed to build new toilets for the little boys and girls to use.

As well as the children’s facilities, Latifa showed us her own office, which really does need some attention, it would help her to have a proper carpet that covered all of the floor, new stable chairs and shelves so that when volunteers or guests come, they too can use the office and have a pleasant and clean workspace to work in, without feeling your chair is going to giveaway any second! Latifa would also like to go on computer courses and get computer for her office to make her work easier.

Upon our return, three volunteers, Louise Proctor, Claire Manning and Elizabeth Drey flew out to Zanzibar from Ireland and brought with them a very generous donation of over £4000 for the nursery; with their help and local workers, building work has now commenced, with a new roof and plastering. The work on the wall/fence will be started next, and then the new windows will be fitted. The donations will also help to build new toilets for the little boys and girls. A further £3296 has been donated by Whitney Harris-Linton from Michigan (£77 put towards the roof), Melissa Wolsley from Findlay, Australia (donated £99 for a black board to be fitted in the classroom) £2600 and £520 have also been donated from more kind donators. The money given will be used to finish renovating the school and any money left over will be used on a new project in Madale, Dar-Es-Salam, subject to the donors consent.

kiswahili sebastienIf you would like to volunteer at the nursery or donate; your time, skills, money, toys, stationary or school equipment, do contact Edward Busungu at Art in Tanzania and get involved, it certainly is a fantastic project and the children and staff are simply delightful to be around.

If you do wish to teach at the school, we would recommend spending more than two weeks, as this will enable you to build a much better rapport with the children and staff, allowing them to put into practice what you teach and you will be able to witness the difference that your presence can make in their lives and futures.

 

Al – Quwiyyi Islamic School

A private Islamic school in the village of Fuoni, named after the founder’s, Mr Hakeem Abdullah, families tribe name in Mafia, pronounced Al Qu-wee.

The school was opened on Monday 13th January 2014 after four months of preparations. The school has 24 classes, providing nursery to secondary education to approximately 600 local students.

Art in Tanzania has been working with Al – Quwiyyi since 2015 sending volunteers to teach the children Maths, English and Science or to simply assist teachers in a range of subjects and look after the children in the classroom.

School days are Monday to Friday 07:00 to 13:00 – lunch is at 13:00. From 14:00 to 22:30 the school operates Madrassa classes for approximately 250 students. Any volunteers, who can deliver or assist in teaching Arabic, Quran, Tajweed and Fiqh will be most welcomed. The school would ideally like volunteers to stay longer than two weeks to teach, to enable the volunteers to build a great rapport with the children and staff.

If volunteers are here for a short stay or did not want to teach, they can choose to assist with cooking lunch or assist in the school’s stationary and snack shop

The founder of the school, Mr Abdullah, has an ambitious plan to build a boarding school with a Masjid, female and male hostel plus accommodation for workers in the near future, he is currently liaising with officials for a suitable plot of land. Support with this project would be welcomed from international organisations to help make his vision a reality. You can contact the school directly at alquwiyyi@hotmail.com.

If you would like to volunteer at the nursery or donate; your time, skills, money, toys, stationary or school equipment, do contact Edward Busungu at Art in Tanzania and get involved, this is a fantastic school with friendly students with great ambitions and dreams you can be a part of.

Please note that this is an Islamic school so if you do wish to volunteer be mindful of the way you dress, wearing modest clothing, by way of covering your arms, legs and your hair, would be appreciated by all the staff.

Uzi Island needs environmental interns and volunteers

Road to Uzi

Road to Uzi

Uzi is a small island in the south of Zanzibar’s main island, Unguja. The road to Uzi is called Nyeker road; manmade using rocks and stones with at least four types of mangroves on either side. The road to Uzi resembles the partition of the River Nile in the story of Moses; simply mesmerising. The road has been built slowly over 50 years. It started off as a small lane for walking; this was then made wider for the use of bicycles, then for cows and finally it was made even wider for the use of motor vehicles.

The drive to Uzi Island is very beautiful, but very bumpy, if you suffer from motion sickness, be sure to sit at the front of the vehicle or make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Our informative and helpful guide, Isshaka, met us at a resting point, made with the help of volunteers for when the tide comes in. The water can rise up to two metres when there is a full moon. When the tide is high you can goDSC03795 fishing. The land in Zanzibar is so fertile we were able to plant four mangrove seeds each, Twenty (Edward) steps from the resting point, on the right, which fulfilled a personal ambition to plant trees that will definitely grow.

The town to Uzi and has been there for around 10 years along with three wells on the Island that provide drinking water. A Dala Dala, number 334, from Uzi to Stone town takes around one hour.

Uzi baskets made by women's group

Uzi baskets made by women’s group

The main sources of income for the Island are from fishing, farming and carpenter work. There are also woman groups on the island and the woman craft their own fruit baskets that Art in Tanzania export to Finland and also sell on EBay for around 25 Dollars.

Within the mangroves, women from the villages have placed plastic bottles across the water in order to collect two types of seaweed, they use plastic boats to collect these when the tide is high; 100 of these plastic boats were donated by a friend of Isshaka. The seaweed is then made into soaps and sold in order to provide income to the villagers.

helloIsshaka went to school in Uzi then to Ston etown to study further. Isshaka is very passionate about wanting to make a difference and help people live a better life in Uzi. Isshaka does 2 radio broadcasts throughout the week; one where he brings awareness of environmental issues on Uzi Island and what others can do to help, and another broadcast called Sunset Zanzibar, where he talks about tourism and the importance to the island and how tourism can help the island develop.

Uzi grows many fruits such as Mangoes, Oranges, Guava, Yams and Cassava. Alrge Baobab trees also grow in Uzi; the villages used to cut these down, however Isshaka has been campaigning to keep these trees in order to house bee boxes that provide honey to the locals; honey season is September to October. The Baobab fruit when mixed with water and sugar is a good source of Vitamin C.

Biogas from biowaste

Biogas from biowaste

The Island really needs creative interns and volunteers passionate about the environment and sustainable development. Also people that can help the women create innovative arts and crafts in order to sell and help provide an income for many households on Uzi Island.

For volunteering at Uzi  you can contact  Art in Tanzania info (at) artintanzania.org

Zanzibar Film Festival – Safari ya Gwalu

GWALU.jpg

Image from google images

Every year Zanzibar holds an international film festival for one week, usually in July, showcasing talented local and international film directors work as well as music and art exhibitions in various locations around Zanzibar from the Old Fort to the Double Tree by Hilton, which is where we sat in a room to watch the two hour film, Safari ya Gwalu, written and directed by Daniel Magane, this was a film inspired by the Kenyan film called First Grader.

The film highlighted the struggles of, not only adult education, but also daily life in Tanzania for both the adults and children. It certainly captured the hearts of its small audience at the Double Tree, with spectators giving a round of applause and praise to the director and the main actor who played Gwalu, Salim Ahmad, who provided a question and answer session at the end.

The Director, Daniel, said that many people have said to him that, if they were able to go to school it would open up new opportunities for them and enable them to live a better life, this was the main inspiration for him to create this film and to emphasise that, even if you are older than the average child that attends school, it is never too late to seek an education and work towards living a better life.

Salim said the main reason he took up the role was the message of education and just how important it is to go to school, no matter what age you are. The message was that if someone really wants to go to school, they should just go to school, no matter what anyone else says.

This film was great at showing what life can be like living in Tanzania, if not in other parts of Africa too, it showed how important it is for the young to go to and stay in school and for those who never went or never finished school before, to go at whatever age they can and if they don’t think they have the courage to go, as Gwalu in the film says, bravery can make a man do things he never thought possible.

The Zanzibar Volunteer House

Volunteers can expect to share a house with others from all cultures and backgrounds. You will stay in dorms, eat breakfast together and perhaps do the same volunteering project or go explore Zanzibar together. An orientation will be given the day you arrive or the following day.

There can be social activities with the team leaders during the week depending on what is happening in Zanzibar and how busy everyone is, the team do meet for lunch, dinner or drinks where possible.

DSC03587.JPG

Volunteers can look forward to a BBQ games night whilst staying at the accommodation. Edward, the team leader, was in his element rustling up a BBQ of Kingfish and Octopus. This was a quiet BBQ night with a feisty game of ‘Snatch’. You need to find this game and learn to play it to have a chance of beating the ‘King of Snatch’ aka Edward. The atmosphere varies depending on the size and dynamics of the volunteers. It was a pleasant evening against a backdrop of African music and good old banter.

Our tips for being out in Zanzibar, especially as female travellers:

  1. Bring a headscarf to put on your head or around your arms because the locals do appreciate this. It also serves as UV protection and mosquito barrier! We covered as much as possible and felt respected for doing so. We brought an umbrella with us to provide much needed shade when there was none.
  2. Bring mosquito repellent, mosquito after bite cream…you can get these over here, but best to be prepared. Also bring wet wipes, antibacterial hand gel because you will need these out and about.
  3. Buy a local SIM card with data as the house does not have internet-wifi
  4. The plug sockets are the same as in the UK (3 pronged), bring an international plug adapter
  5. Learn some essential Kiswahili words and phrases
Kiswahili English Response in Kiswahili English
Mambo Hello Poa Good
Karibu (singular) Karibuni (pr) Welcome Asante

Asante sana

Thank you

Thank you very much

Habari How are you Nzuri  Good

Helping the kids in Yusuf School

YusufFounded by Yusuf Kombo Juma, a father of six children, who witnessed the problems and challenges of education and set out on a mission to tackle the issue, he sold his own land and properties and got creative in raising money in order to fund his vision.

Yusuf started his school with just one nursery class with 30 local children in 2010, this then grew each year and now the school has two nursery classes and five secondary classes with 95 local children attending the school for 8000 TZS per month, the eldest students are aged 13. The school runs from 07:30 to 12:00/ 12:45 for the older students. There are seven local teachers. Yusuf is hoping to build another classroom for those older than this, but will need funds to build it.

donatedArt in Tanzania has been working with this school since 2011; they helped expand the school from one class room to what it is now, through Art in Tanzania two volunteers have helped out for three months, helping the students and the teachers also, a volunteer from the UK taught the teachers ways of teaching for two weeks which the teachers found very helpful. Yusuf said that good education brings in more students so volunteers are very much welcomed to help support in whichever way they can.

girl school-SebastienBeunChildren of all faiths attend the school and learn, Maths, English, Science, Swahili, Arabic and some learn about Islam. There will be opportunities to teach the children different languages, such as French and German if volunteers wished to do so. If you don’t want to teach you can simply provide help and support for the children and teachers, you could even set up clubs or different activities for the children, there is something for everyone.

In order to expand the school, Yusuf wishes to buy the plot of land next to the school building to create three new classes for the school. For this he requires 4 million TZS (approximately £1450) to buy the land, and then 3 million TZS (approximately £1060) to build one classroom.

DSC04539Yusuf also has an ambition to build a centre for children near the Yusuf school on a plot of land he already owns, this would provide shelter and education for orphans in need. To build around five rooms Yusuf would require around 9 million TZS (approximately £3200) the centre would then need, beds and other furnishings to provide for the children living in the centre.

Yusuf spoke about how some of the children come to school in really bad conditions; these children need support in many ways, not just teaching.

If you would like to volunteer at this school, or to donate, stationary, teaching material, desks, chairs, clothes for the children, bags or office equipment you time or money, get in touch with Edward Busungu at Art in Tanzania for more information.