Tanzania: Why Pinda Supports Use of Solar Energy

Ii the year 2000, a total of 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge became the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015.

In September 2010, the world recommitted itself to accelerate progress towards these goals.

The goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, women empowerment and reduction of child mortality. Other goals were aimed improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and lastly, to develop a global partnership for development.

If we look back and assess critically at what Tanzania has achieved so far, we may be compelled to conclude that a lot of things ought to be done, to enable the country achieve the eight MDG goals, especially in rural areas where poor infrastructure still retards development plans. One of the Companies dedicated to providing solar energy in the country is Baraka Solar Specialist.

Mr Ansi Mmasi, the Managing Executive of Baraka Solar Specialist says that his strong company which deals with solar energy can provide light for offices, schools, residential houses, dispensaries, gardens to mention a few. According to Mr Mmasi, his company is ready to collaborate with different municipal and district councils in providing products like solar mobile and laptop chargers, Baraka mobile batteries, solar household lamps and garden lamps.

"We can provide sustainable energy solutions and services to underserved institutions, households and businesses and empower its customer by providing a complete package of products and services," says Mr Mmasi. Baraka Solar Specialist intends to become a dominant force in the provision of clean, safe and renewable energy in East Africa, and also generate and supply solar energy in the most cost effective, competitive and sustainable ways that will add value to energy consumers. This company has evolved a high performance work culture in which staffs operate in a fast paced and challenging environment that encourages creativity and commitment and if applied in districts, the country could attain some of the MDG goals.

Baraka solar specialist staff is ready to offer free education and training to councils and municipalities before they accept a Solar system. After system installation the company will offer free training on how to use the system for the best benefits for three months. The country can hardly achieve MDG goals, if reliable source of energy is not available to help the people access better health care and other services vital in their day to day lives.

The Tanzania Electric Supply Corporation (TANESCO) has been struggling tooth and nail to render services but sadly enough, over 75 per cent Tanzanians do not have reliable power supply to enable them lighten their house, leave alone providing other services.

Winding up estimates for his office in Dodoma last week, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda urged district and municipal councils countrywide to use solar system where TANESCO services are not available, or they may not reach there any soon.

Pinda has always been insisting that his office struggle to make sure lives of people especially in rural areas are improved to make the people get better social services. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP) or to split water and create hydrogen fuel using techniques of artificial photosynthesis. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam.

Health Centres, Dispensaries, and secondary schools in rural areas urgently need solar energy to enable them render services in a rather simplified way. Rukwa region (where the Premier hails from) has already started using solar power in different ways. The advantage of using such a utility might have prompted Mr Pinda to ask other districts emulate such success stories. Generally, District Commissioners countrywide are determined to see to it that ward secondary schools, Health Centres and dispensaries get solar panels.

For example, Handeni District Commissioner (DC) Mr Muhingo Rweyemamu has lauded the Prime Minister for insisting usage of solar power in areas where TANESCO does not provide such services. ‘We can hardly develop if we don’t have electricity. In Handeni we have schools and dispensaries located in remote areas and to facilitate their service delivery, we need solar system’ says Mr Rweyemamu. He adds that as a media professional, he would like the people he serves to watch television news, as well as listen to different radio programmes. All these can be possible, where solar power has been installed.

This District Commissioner says that he has a very efficient manpower working under him, and he would soon discuss the matter of using solar power in Handeni in the next fiscal year. Mr Rweyemamu is not alone in this line of thinking. Simanjiro District Commissioner Mr Peter Toima supports the idea of using solar power in remote villages of his area. He says that dormitories of Ward Secondary Schools in his district, especially those of girls need solar energy to guarantee them with light for studies. Joseph Mkude, who is Same District Council Director in Kilimanjaro region says solar energy is no longer a story but a reality in his place.

‘Dormitories of Umali and Kilangale Secondary Schools have been installed with solar panels and students are able to study before going to sleep at 10.00 p.m. We want to continue with the same plan in other schools and dispensaries,’ says Mr Mkude. Some schools and dispensaries in Nachingwea district, Lindi region have also started using solar energy, affirms Ms Regina Chonjo, Nachingwea District Commissioner.

She says that Prime Minister’s insistence on the use of energy should be adapted by all districts in the country because the utility has improved education and health services in his district. ‘We can now use our laboratories effectively to store our medicines. This is because we have solar energy in some areas. I encourage my fellow District Commissioners to go for this alternative energy that indeed reduce problems that our people face. Solar power even enables our people to watch their TVs. People need information to understand what is happening in the world. Says Ms Chonjo.

Solar energy production in Tanzania with a strong emphasis on cost reduction and an abundant supply of high quality silicon is provided by Baraka Solar Specialist. Baraka solar specialist has evolved a high performance work culture in which staffs operate in a fast paced and challenging environment that encourages creativity and commitment. The company currently employs about 14 employees in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, spread across two energy service centres.

Since 2009, it has sold, and serviced over 100 solar systems to our customers. Baraka Solar Specialist adheres to the principles of Tanzania Rural Energy Authority (TAREA) to develop and promote rational use of solar energy. TAREA encourages research and education in solar energy, disseminate knowledge and information in the field of solar energy, creating opportunities in Tanzania for persons interested in the application of solar energy and related technologies to meet the common ground.

Heavy consumers of electricity at domestic and industrial levels in Kenya are now required to use solar energy to heat water. This, according to the regulator, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), is meant to relieve the national power grid currently under pressure from an escalating demand for energy. The regulator has been carrying out audits on heavy energy users with an aim of encouraging prudent use when regulations being worked on become effective. The solar PV regulations are also being formulated in Kenya to guide development of this green power source.