February 6, 2018
By Tranquility News Correspondent, Moshi
Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) has, in collaboration with South Korea’s innovation Technology and Energy Centre (iTEC), supplied solar power free of charge to over 500 villagers at Mkalama in Masama Ward, Hai District.
The 2016 Energy Access Situation Report by the National Bureau of Statics and the Rural Energy Agency shows Tanzania has a long way to go in provision of electricity, as 67.2 per cent of its households go without the essential social service.
Residents in least national grid electricity connected regions recourse to solar power in the East African country with Lindi leading the list by 75.5 per cent, newly created Njombe 63.4 per cent, Mtwara 61.1 per cent, Katavi 57.6 per cent and Ruvuma 54.7 per cent.
Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira, who inaugurated the project with the capacity of generating 10KW, called on the villagers to use the renewable energy for productive activities in a bid to improve their living standards.
“I thank all those involved in realising this project,” said the RC, stressing that the beneficiaries should use the solar power effectively for the village to stand out of the rural crowd stranded in darkness.
Ms Mghwira said the NM-AIST and iTEC joint research has solved challenges facing villagers, directing the district and village authorities to ensure other researchers operating in the area emulate them.
South Korea’s envoy to Tanzania Song Geum-Young said the Asian country would extend the solar power supply project to other villages in a bid to stimulate socio-economic growth in the country.
“Water is life, a Tanzania’s saying goes, but electricity is the light which radiates hope amid darkness,” the envoy said, congratulating the villagers for effectively taking part in the pilot project.
Geum-Young said Tanzania and South Korea have enjoyed cordial bilateral ties for quite a long time and that Tanzania opened its embassy in Seoul in December last year to further cement the relations and economic diplomacy, in particular.
Professor Sung-Hoon Ahn, the iTEC head, explained that 5KW out of the total 10KW generated will be supplied to villagers free of charge and that the remaining 5KW will belong to the village authorities for them to establish productive activities required for sustaining the project.
Prof Ahn said much as the villagers engaged in cultivation of onions; iTEC is mulling over adding another solar power plant tailor-made for an irrigation scheme.
Dr Esebia Nyari, a resident of the village, said about 4,000 people reside in Mkalama, pleading with the government to consider fast tracking its rural electrification programme for the remaining villagers to also benefit from the reliable energy.
Of the Tanzania’s electrified households, 74.9 per cent are electrified with grid, 24.7 per cent solar power and the remaining 0.3 per cent individual sources such as small generators.
Grid electricity is more prevalent in urban areas, where 96.4 per cent of the households with access to electricity are connected to, compared to rural areas’ 34.5 per cent. Only about 3.4 per cent of urban households with access to electricity get it from solar power compared to 64.8 per cent of rural households.
The study also shows that the Dar es Salaam Region has the lion’s share of households connected to electricity of any form (75.2 per cent) followed by Njombe Region 50.5 per cent, Kilimanjaro 42.6 per cent and Katavi 40.0 per cent.
Regions, which are less than 20 per cent connected to any form of electricity, include Rukwa 8.7 per cent, Simiyu 11.5 per cent, Shinyanga 12.8 per cent, Geita 14 per cent, Songwe 15.9 per cent and Kigoma 16.2 per cent.
Dar es Salaam is the leading region with 99.3 per cent of its households connected to the national grid electricity, followed by Kilimanjaro 88 per cent. Least connected regions to the grid electricity are Lindi 24.5 per cent, Njombe 36.6 per cent, Mtwara 38.9 per cent and Katavi 41.1 per cent.