ESTABLISHED 13 years ago, the Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) has set up an initiative that would ensure accessibility and use of technology that protects the environment countrywide.
The association which is a non-governmental organization works to promote renewable energy technologies such as solar, mini hydro, wind, bio gas, improved stoves using charcoal and firewood.
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.
"TAREA's strategy is to mobilise members procure the equipment massively. We link our members with manufactures so that they can procure the products directly without using the middle men in order to cut the costs," says TAREA Chief Executive Officer Eng. Mathew Matimbwi.
According to him, TAREA encourages member companies to open branches in rural areas, providing renewable energy that is affordable to a larger population at a minimum cost of installation. "We provide services such as installation of solar systems using 20W, a battery 36Ah that can provide power for radio, recharging mobile phones and lights for four hours in full use.
It costs 535,000/- for everything," he says. Eng Matimbwi says the renewable energy systems such as solar are developed for the remote areas where there is no transportation infrastructure. The member companies, according to Eng Matimbwi, have the retailing supply chain to the rural areas.
"Some members have mobile retailing services using vans. We use media like DVD, Magazines, leaflets, radio and TV for raising awareness of the end users on the potential and limitation of the renewable energy technologies.
Further, TAREA conducts annual event on National Renewable Energy Day that aims at raising awareness of the end users on the renewable energy technologies," he elaborates. "The long term initiative would ensure the technology is applied in the whole country and used where necessary to protect our environment," says Eng Matimbwi.
To show a serious commitment towards production of the low cost products, Eng Matimbwi says that TAREA has appealed to the government to remove the import tax and VAT. "The government granted tax exemptions to association through Tax Act No 24 of 1997 and Tax Act of 2005," he adds.
The association provides services of renewable energy sales, planning, and design and system developments. The non-profit making association is involved in the capacity building, systems installations for social services and renewable energy products.
According to CEO, the association promotes the use of technologies that protects the environment (against pollution of green house gases and noise) and assures reliable energy supply at affordable costs.
"Apart from that, we conduct trainings for various researches in renewable energy on the availability of markets and renewable energy applications," he says. Some of the studies underway include solar lanterns for fishing.
This project is implemented in Mwanza Region. Projects to promote the use of grid charged and solar photovoltaic backup systems instead of using petrol or diesel generators operates in Dar es Salaam business centre. Eng Matimbwi says that the technology would be conducted in other business centres in the country.
The organization, according to the CEO, provides volunteer programmes and consultancy services. "We support communities, institutes in planning and design of energy systems, provide guidelines in the preparation of tender documents, assessment and technical translation of the documents," he says.
TAREA members are involved in the development and promotion of technologies of solar (electricity and heat), wind (electricity and mechanical power), biomass (wood, charcoal, bio gas, liquid bio-fuel, briquettes) and mini-hydro.
TAREA brings together actors in the renewable sectors to promote the accessibility and use of renewable energies in Tanzania Mainland. "Our objectives are to advance knowledge and skills, manage knowledge and dissemination of information, network our members and other key actors in the public and private sector," he notes.
Other objectives, according to him, is to support the creation of an enabling environment and framework for sustainable renewable energy market, support and encourage best practices including development and enforcement of standards and codes of conduct together with facilitating market development of renewable energy technologies, applications and services.
The CEO says the organization provides training on solar PV Technology. "We have trained 194 solar PV technicians, supported by SIDA/MEM PV project for regions of Iringa, Tanga, Morogoro, Coast, Mbeya, Kigoma, Rukwa, Mtwara, Dodoma, Ruvuma, Lindi, Tabora, Manyara and Singida.
Eng Matimbwi explained further that the organization trains instructors for Vocational Education and Training Authority Trainers in solar Photovoltaic Technologies. It has already trained 52 VETA Trainers form the regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Dodoma, Mbeya, Mtwara, Ruvuma, Kigoma, Tabora, Singida, Rukwa, Morogoro and Tanga.
TAREA has trained members of staff of Fair Competition Commission in which seven staff members of the commission have been trained, Entry points of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (36), Tanzania Bureau of Standards (four), Ministry of Energy and Minerals (one), and members of TAREA (two) who work to intervene to the supply chain of substandard and counterfeit renewable energy products. TAREA trainers consist of theory and practical instructors.
The theory instructors consists of members with qualification of Masters Degree to doctorates (Doctors and Professors) while practical instructors consists of members with qualifications of Full Technician Certificates to Bachelor of Science in Engineering. TAREA also has been conducting renewable energy exhibitions since 2005.
Apart from exhibitions, TAREA conducts stakeholders' workshops, study tours of target groups on renewable systems, awareness to the public through articles, leaflets, TV and newspapers on fake/ poor quality products.
TAREA also provides renewable energy information to target groups through its website, e-newsletter, quarterly renewable energy magazine, brochures, radio and the internet. In August, 2009, TAREA conducted renewable energy exhibition to Members of Parliament in Dodoma and in May, 2010, it conducted renewable energy exhibition in Arusha which attracted participants from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga regions.
Some of the biggest achievements of TAREA, according to the CEO, were preparation of Tax reform proposal for renewable energy which led to VAT and other taxes waiver on solar and wind energy products/ components and preparation of National Solar PV Standards in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, supported by UNDP-Mwanza Solar PV Project.
TAREA membership includes corporates (service providers/enterprises), professionals (scientific individuals), associate members (non scientific institutions and individuals), student members and international members. Over the years, TAREA has been implementing activities promoting; capacity building activities, awareness creation, service quality control and lobbying/advocating national policies enabling sound environment for dissemination of renewable energy technologies.