28 May 2012

Tanzania: Solar Powered Lanterns Change the Face of Rural Arusha

Arusha — The use of solar charged lanterns is gaining momentum in rural parts of Arusha, following recent efforts to subsidize them.

The lanterns that are slowly but surely replacing kerosene lamps as rural household illuminators have seen villagers minimizing their spending on fuel. Mr Kasindei Massawe, a trader, who runs a retail store in Babati township of Manyara region, said he initially bought one D. Light solar lantern to use at his shop but customers started to place orders.

"I was at loss with no idea where to get stock because I had bought mine in Dar es Salaam, intending to use it to light up the cattle pen during the early morning milking sessions at the farm," he said.

With prices ranging between 16,000/- and 60,000/- depending on size, the lanterns, produced by Delight Designs, a global non-profit company which intends to provide safe and clean sources of light to poor African families, are able to save Tanzanian households from the escalating prices of paraffin.

Ms Janet Kanana, who runs the Eriki Kanana Shop in Karatu, said one solar powered lantern saves a household 400/- which is the minimum amount of money spent daily to fuel up one kerosene lamp.

"But a solar lantern with a lifetime of up to 15 years, requires no fuel apart from sunlight which charges it during the day to provide light the whole night except a single investment of purchasing the gadget," she explained.

Following the huge demand, the manufacturers of D.Light lanterns have appointed the Arusha-based Bulk Distributors Limited to supply the solar lamps in Tanzania.

"Our target are people in rural areas, especially farmers," said a representative from D.Light, Mr Paul Njuguna, adding that cases of fires caused by kerosene lamps and candles have been claiming lives and destroying property in many parts of East Africa and solar charged lanterns can alleviate the problem.

"We aim to enable households without electricity to attain the same quality of life as those with electricity. We will begin by replacing every kerosene lantern with clean, safe and bright light," he said.

Mr Theobald Zomanya, the marketing officer with Bulk Distributors, said that at the moment the lights are being supplied in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara regions but there are efforts to take them to other parts of Tanzania including Mwanza, Kigoma and the Southern Highlands.

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