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/

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.

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.

 

Spice Tour

Spice is an essential ingredient of Zanzibarian culture therefore a visit to Zanzibar is not complete without a (half day) spice tour. With the abolition of the slave trade, spices became a source of income for Zanzibar and it remains to be so, with the island being the biggest exporter of cloves.

Our guide and spice farmer, Mr Abeid, who inherited the spice farm from his late father, took us on a fragrant and delightful journey of exploration along his show farm, which is around 800 acres; he has his larger farm close by. Mr Abid was very informative and charmingly engaging as well as entertaining with the help of his assistant ”Maria”.

I love my spices and was still pleasantly surprised by how the spices were grown, how they were used and their benefits in cooking and for general health.

We started with the Annato plant; a natural orange-red colouring that comes from the seeds and is used in food, lipstick and the vermillion that Hindu’s use on their forehead (modelled by ‘Maria’).

Did you know that cloves actually grow on trees, and need to be dried for five days in the sun to be black in colour? Same with peppercorns, they grow on trees. Also interestingly the island has cacoa trees, but they import their chocolate and make coco powder for hot chocolate. However they export Zanzibar coffee to Arab countries, it’s a strong flavour.

We had Ylang Ylang flowers crushed into our hands, used many well known perfumes like Channel No 5. They have a small stall selling some of their own produce which is a must see, including Ylangi Ylangi oil.

There is one fruit, you will either love or loathe like marmite – the Durian aka the stink fruit. You might not want to be near one should it drop to the floor!

Lunch was provided, cooked by local women…this was the best food I’d tasted at the time of writing. You really need to go and experience it for yourself. We asked for a recipe (measurements all to taste!)

Pilau rice

In a pan fry a bit of cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, then add crushed garlic and sliced onions – cook until brown.

Transfer this to a pressure cooker and add washed rice and quartered potatoes with water to cover the rice. This should take up to 30 minutes. You could leave it in the original pan and cook it on the hob or put it in a Moroccan tagine clay dish to cook in the oven.

Serve rice with Kingfish dry cooked in a mix of spices. We had side dishes of mixed vegetables cooked in coconut milk and a pinch of turmeric. Also a spicy tomato sauce cooked in coconut oil plus cassava leaves mixed with coconut milk to make a spinach dish. Delicious. We were served water and lemon grass tea to accompany our meal.

Weekend Safari trip organized by Art in Tanzania

Going on safari in Tanzania if you visit Africa is almost as compulsory required as a trip to Zanzibar. So a group of three already well settled in interns decided to go on a weekend safari provided by the organization. The preparation and arrangement of the trip was well organized. One week before we were registered by a Team leader for the journey. The payment was due to three days before we were leaving on Friday. The short briefing two day before we left hold by our actual safari guide was pretty informative and helpful in terms of what to pack or activity related questions. On Friday after the breakfast we left in our safari jeep to our first stop our accommodation for the first night. On the way to the place we passed the park entrance next to several animals and hers of impalas, monkeys, giraffes and elephants. After the first night we started early at half past seven to our game drive at the Mikumi National Park where we had the chance to spot buffaloes, zebras, hippos and a variety of many more species. In the evening we drove to the second station in the rainforest, to the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. At this park we had the chance to see numerous primates and a big amount of other plants and animals during our hike to the waterfalls as the park has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its vast variety of endemic species. In the afternoon we went on the way back to Madale at Wazo hill. Summing up for all of us it was a quite pleasant weekend trip organized and conducted by Art in Tanzania.

 

The need to be a responsible tourist?!

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming.

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming in the recent decades.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industry among all. The rising living standard, increased leisure time and the desire to learn about the world has increased the mobility of worldwide travellers. In 2015, the number of international travellers is reported to be 1.18 billion, which has increased by 262% compared with what we had in 1990. This number is predicted to reach 1.6 billion by 2020, which is more than the total population of Europe and the U.S. combined.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issues.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issue.

However, this tremendous growth is not happening without consequences. Tourism has been found to cause devastating impacts to the wider environment and society. To name a few, hotels are always a big consumer to water which has resulted in conflicts between local use and tourism development. Taking the case here in Tanzania, while the whole tourism and hotel industry is on the rise that tourists are enjoying all sorts of water facility; farmers in Dar es Salaam have been left with no choice but using polluted water to irrigate their crops for they have no access to clean water. (More on http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=88539). Study has shown that every household in Zanzibar uses an average of 93 litres per day whereas the average consumption of water use in a five star hotel can go up to 3195 litres per room per day. These figures prove how tourism is causing intense pressure on local water use. Sewage and wastewater discharge from hotels could also lead to fresh water contamination.

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

 

Tansania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park and in Udzungwa Rainforest. Tansanian safari Mikumin luonnonpuisto ja Udzungwa sademetsän retki.

Tanzania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park: it is important to make sure that such beautiful scenery will not be compromised by tourism.

Contributing to global warming is another great problem of tourism while air travels release significant amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The loss of forests for tourism infrastructures also aggravates the carbon emission problem. While natural beauty is one of the main attractions in tourism, the growth of tourism activities can have adverse impacts to the beautiful sceneries. For example, tourism construction causes transformation of landscape and disruption of views; also, water activities can cause pollution and disruption to marine life and biodiversity.

 

The Massai

The Massai

Socially, tourism can turn local cultures into commodities when the traditional elements are modified to satisfy the tourist expectation. The visit of Maasai tribe is one typical example in Tanzania while tourists usually expect to see the Maasai men dancing in their beautiful cloths and jewellery but have little interest to experience their real life and work. As a result of that, only the interesting things will be preserved in order to satisfy tourists and make money. The authenticity of the destination might eventually be lost. Furthermore, tourists might, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect the local customs and values; in which can bring irritation to the local communities and in the worst case, cause resentment.

Luckily, having recognized the negative impacts caused by tourism development, the industry has already on the way to mitigate the negative impacts and strive for sustainable tourism. A sustainable approach to tourism means that tourism resources and attractions should be used in a way that neither the natural environment nor the society will be impaired; on the contrary, they should benefit from tourism, both economically and culturally. Some existing practices includes applying energy efficient engines on aircrafts, introducing renewable energy and grey water schemes to conserve resources, educating tourists on respecting the environment and community…and more and more.

The question is, how can we tourists, as the major consumer in the industry, can help to react to the problems? Many industrial actions would be useless if we refuse to change our behaviours accordingly. Developing sustainable tourism needs our cooperation, even the smallest deeds matter!!

So, here are some practical tips to being a responsible traveller.

  • Don’t litter, try to take the rubbish with you until you can find a bin. Help to preserve the lovely sceneries for other people.
  • Try to avoid excessive use of plastic bottles and plastic bags by bringing your own reusable water bottle and shopping bag. (Not all the countries have disposal/ recycling system for plastics).
  • Reduce energy consumption. Turn off unused lights and electrical appliances.
  • Conserve water by taking shorter showers. When you are enjoying your long shower; there are people in the same area have limited access to fresh water.
  • Always ask before taking photos of someone. Respect when they say no.
  • Respect cultural difference. You might experience thing that is out of expectation, but that’s the real culture, embrace it and enjoy it.
  • Dress respectively. Some countries are relatively conservative that shoulders and knees are expected to be covered up.
  • Don’t purchase products that are made of endangered species.
  • Buy locally and eat locally. It is the best way to enjoy the local culture, and your spending could help to feed the whole family. Purchasing locally can also help reduce the carbon emission caused by transportation.
  • Before you go, take some times to check out your holiday providers (hotel, travel agent, tour operator) – support those who support sustainable travels.

“The movement for responsible tourism is gathering pace – we can make tourism a better experience for hosts and guests”

 

 

Interview with a volunteer

Interviewing has always been something exciting for all of us. Learning about experiences one had is a fantastic feeling for the rest. This interview is with a volunteer working with Art in Tanzania, an NGO known for upbringing major social impacts in the community of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Let’s hear about Sari’s experiences and how she worked with AIT to help the community grow.

Interviewer: Hey Sari, How are you doing?Sari 3 (1)

Sari: It’s good. How are you?

Interviewer: I’m great. Let’s start. First, tell me something about yourself.

Sari: I am Sari, living in Finland now. My first time in Tanzania was two years ago. This is my fifth time with Art In Tanzania since then.

Interviewer: That’s amazing. So, you’ve been volunteering for a long time. You can tell me exactly how do you think volunteering affects the community?

Sari: I can say from my side, as I was in the Construction as well as Environmental conservation project that even if you do a small thing for a community or teach a few people how to do something, they can spread the word. Even a small help from your side can be a big thing for the natives. You can’t change the whole world but you can change a community by taking a single ‘step’.

Interviewer: That means a lot, really! Have you been volunteering before these AIT Volunteering?

Sari: Not really, this is practically the first.

Interviewer: That’s good. How did you end up at Art in Tanzania?

Sari: Yeah, we had a big festival in Finland called ‘World Festival’. I met Marjut at the Art in Tanzania stand there.  I was planning to have a sabbatical year from work & she told me about the volunteering & internship opportunities here. It sounded so good that almost the next day I was booking the tickets.

Interviewer: Awesome. So What project were you working on at AIT?

Sari: Mainly construction & some environmental projects like in Moshi, we had a Tree Plantation & Conservation project. In Zanzibar, I learnt how to make Dhow boats & in Dar es Salaam, we made the compost & I taught native people how to use it for agriculture.

Interviewer: That’s so good. How was your experience with AIT during these two years?

Sari: I was so good, that it is my fifth time here. I really love this. I keep coming back & back & back.

Interviewer: Now Sari, I want you to rate Art in Tanzania on the following points on the scale of 1-5.

Sari: Yeah, go ahead.

  1. Community Service that AIT is doing 4
  2. The closeness to the local community 4
  3. The kind of projects 4
  4. The support you get from ait while you are on your project 3
  5. Accommodation 4
  6. Food 4
  7. Overall 4

The interviewer is a volunteer working with Art in Tanzania & has no relation with AIT at all. The interview is devised and conducted by the interviewer itself, with no interference from the AIT team.Sari 2 (1)