Art in Tanzania receives many different interns and volunteers from different parts of the world, all year round. As an intern myself, it is interesting to meet and live among such a diverse group of people, learn about their home countries and what they are doing with Art in Tanzania. So I decided to interview one intern originally from Japan; Tomoki…
Q: What is your name and where are you from?
A: My name is Tomoki Noguchi and originally I am from Japan but I go to university in New York in the US.
Tomoki hard at work in the office
Q: How long have you been in Tanzania?
A: So far I have been here for 15 days and I am staying for 1 month. So I’m about half way through. It is also my first time in Africa.
Q: Where did you hear about Art in Tanzania?
A: I heard about Art in Tanzania through my university on the internship website. AIT was posted on the webpage. Also, one of my friends came here last year so he told me all about it.
Q: What is your job as an intern with Art in Tanzania?
A: I am working on sanitation projects. So currently I am analysing the efficiency of composting/dry toilets. In the future Art in Tanzania are hoping to put dry toilet systems in schools all across Tanzania and I am helping to do the research for this.
Q: Is living in Tanzania very different to living in your home country?
Boxing Day at the beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage
A: Yeah, of course, no place is the same. The roads here are rubbish, I hate shaking. I get stomachache and headache, the government should fix that; there should be pavement. I don’t understand, that should be top priority – I was shocked.
Q: What are you enjoying most about Tanzania?
A: I enjoy making new friends from all over the world. Some of the food I enjoy but some I don’t really like. I haven’t tried much traditional food but I really like cassava. I’m used to eating things like chapatis and cassava so it’s good.
Q: What do you miss most about your home?
A: I don’t really miss America that much. I’ve been missing many things from Japan. For example sanitation and traditional Japanese food, of course. Tokyo city overall. But what i’ve been missing is the culture in more developed countries. When I went to the hospital I didn’t feel like they were professional or had the responsibility of doctors.
Q: Do you think you will come back and visit?
A: I would definitely like to come back and visit Moshi to see Kilimajaro and may be even climb it. I would also like to see a national park.
Tomoki with one of the house dogs; JJ
“I’m really enjoying my time in Tanzania because of the people here, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, especially JJ!”
Used to explain the laid back, relaxed, African way of living: ‘This is Africa‘ is a common phrase heard around the volunteer compound and Dar es Salaam in general. Despite working on bongo time (african timing), having TIA permanently carved into my brain, and adjusting to a less structured way of living; 5pm on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday—without fail—is the time scheduled for the evening English class. Putting spelling and grammar aside, last Mondays lesson was a little bit different. I decided to interview one of the students that regularly attends the class; Zabron. You see, I may know that Zabron can identify the subject, verb and object in a sentence, and I know that he can explain the difference between and adjective and an adverb; but I don’t know much about him. So I introduce, to you, Zabron Anthony…
Q: What is your name and where do you live?
A: My name is Zabron Anthony. I live at Bagamoyo in Kiharaka Village and have been living in that place for 9 years.
Q: And where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Shinyanga and from here that is about 1,000km. My parents were living in poverty so they could not afford to send me to school. I have been faced with a lot of challenges but I am really thankful for and enjoy the English classes.
Q: What is your everyday job?
A: My job is that I am a security guard in Mbweni. This job helps me to pay school fees and I have only been working there since 2014 because of school. I plan to leave this job when I start school again. From my home to Mbweni is 2 hours because I walk but other days I use public transport. I don’t enjoy this job very much because of low wages.
Q: Do you get a chance to practice what you learn at the English classes in your job?
A: A lot of people at my job only speak Swahili and that is a challenge I have because they don’t like to learn things that help you to advance. But at the moment I like to learn from my phone away from the English classes. I like looking at the lyrics of songs. When I have a chance I watch the BBC and when I do not have chance to watch TV I just watch my phone. If I am busy at work I listen to the radio so that I can learn the pronunciation and my aim is to learn English and speak it like you.
Q: And how long have you been coming to the English classes?
A: I have been coming to these classes for a long time. I started with Art in Tanzania in 2014 for 4 months but left because of school. I finished school last year so this year I come to AIT as to improve my language because I like to know English.
Q: Is your school/college English speaking?
A: There is English speaking at the college and there is also French but they favour English when they want people to join the college.
Q: And finally, what do you hope to do with English in the near future?
A: In the Near future this English will help me to join the college next year, I am trying to learn good things that will help me in the future. I would like to visit England but I haven’t the support. If I get the support it would be good because I can meet more people who will help me learn. If it will happen even for only one month it will be really good.
“When I learn English I have the opportunity to do a lot because it is an international language”
Art in Tanzania volunteers and interns are working to help support and to benefit
people within the local community. Providing English classes like these give locals a chance to improve their understanding and competence within the language; overall
giving them more opportunities. To read more about some of the education programmes offered by Art in Tanzania you can visit our website .
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 reside 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.
Compared 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.
Over 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 Development
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.
Utilizing 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.
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.
The 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.
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