Solar energy demand soars in Tanzania

Demand for solar energy, one of renewable technologies in the country, has increased with users saving about 60 per cent of the costs of using electricity from the national grid.

This was revealed in Dar es Salaam by the Executive Secretary of the Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) Mr Mathew Matimbwi in an interview.

“About six per cent of 21 per cent of the population with access to power in rural areas use solar energy, recording almost 100 per cent growth every year,” he said, adding that, “Surveys have established that most users of solar energies have managed to reduce power costs by about 60 per cent.”

Mr Matimbwi added that most rural people have expressed great interest in accessing solar energy for lighting and other small scale activities which generate earnings. The government has been promoting private sector through renewable energy approaches to rural electrification.

Approaches involve mini-grids and the development of solar energy off-grid, or specifically the development of the market for photovoltaic and rural lighting technologies (RLTs).

He mentioned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency-Ministry of Energy and Minerals (SIDA-MEM) project, one of the biggest projects that the government has implemented in the rural areas.

The project has been successful in sensitizing rural dwellers to use renewable technologies. However, Mr Matimbwi cautioned over the fake solar equipment which have flooded the market, calling on users to procure genuine parts from the authorised dealers.

The renewable technologies are the only options for electrifying off grid areas using decentralized sustainable energy system that can be developed specifically for remote areas.

The Association works to electrify the off grid areas with appropriate systems like Solar Home Systems (SHS) which are installed at hospitals, schools and households.

Established 13 years ago and with about 360 members of which 80 are companies dealing with solar electrifications, TAREA has embarked on an initiative to ensure accessibility and use of technology that protects the environment countrywide.