23 July 2014

Tanzania: Innovator Worried Appeal for Funding Yields No Response

Zanzibar — EXHAUSTED, Mr Ali Mahmoud Ali does not seem to give up the hunt for funds to develop his new electricity project dubbed 'Rahma Natural Energy'. It is almost six years since he started soliciting funds for his first ever project.

In an interview, with reporters in Zanzibar, Ali, a well known fisherman, a self styled 'scientist,' after his recent innovation of a simple machine (turbine), explained how the road to developing the electricity generators has been bumpy.

"I started research on the project work in 2006, after learning from a religious cleric that it was possible to produce electricity from wind.

And in 2009 I successfully conducted my first testing," said Ali, a Standard Two leaver from Pemba. He said that his former work as commuter bus (daladala) conductor helped him get the courage of innovation, and since then (2009) he has been developing the technology, he believes if developed, can be a solution to the current problem of unsteady supply of electricity in the Islands.

"Despite my low level of education, my innovation is a big contribution to the country. The machine can produce five thousand (5000 watts) of electricity sufficient for lighting five houses," explained Ali.

Mahmoud said that he has spent 4m/- on the project so far, and requires about 11m/- to complete the first phase of the project before advancing to a bigger stage.

He said through support he would be able to make a binger turbine which can produce more power. He said: "I have visited several offices, in the past three years, in search for funds, unfortunately with no success. Among the offices I visited include Research and Innovation department- Second Vice-President's Office."

I also asked for assistance, in vain, from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), and the Union Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology." Everyone I met with praised my idea and innovation, even the Minister for Communication, Science, and Technology, Prof Makame Mbarawa, who admired and praised my work," said Ali.

He said even the Media Council of Tanzania recognizes his work after a local journalist had written an article about it. The Journalist was awarded for the article during the annual journalism award, "but I cannot understand why the people I expected to support me are not doing so!"

Mahmoud said that some people don't want to believe that he was only a Standard Two leaver. The 'Rahma Natural Energy (RNE)' machines can be placed anywhere because it requires the smallest speed of wind to produce electricity.

The innovator says Zanzibar has been hunting for alternative source of energy because power from the National Grid in the mainland is no longer reliable.

He said the project, if developed can be useful to the islands, because power is prerequisite to development. "I made all the drawings myself and I am proud of the work," said.

Ali, 42, a father of eight children and a man who considers himself as a good fisherman, says he has not been discouraged by delays to get funds, and that the 4m/- he spent on the project, partly was contributed by individuals, while the rest was a donations from mosques. "I still appeal to the COSTECH to take my innovation serious.

Politicians, planners, and academicians get proud of the local innovators. We are told that majority manufacturers in Japan, India, and China are local innovators with simple equipment and machines," he said.

The charming Zanzibari living in Mshelishelini suburbs of the Zanzibar town, argues that he deserves support from COSTECH because its vision is being "A prime driver of science, technology and innovation for sustainable development."

COSTECH's mission, established in 1986, is "To foster knowledge based economy through promotion, coordination of research, technology development and innovation for sustainable development in Tanzania." Leaders including presidents of Zanzibar and the Union have been in recent years encouraging people and young scientists to research and be innovative for the development of the country.

In May this year Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal also stressed on the need for innovation in basic services to improve the quality of life and social well-being. He made the emphasis at the launch of Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF).

HDIF is a five-year Euro 30 million (83.514bn/-) fund, supported by the UK government, for innovation to create social impact in education, health and water, sanitation and hygiene across Tanzania. Head of HDIF Tanzania, Dr Marshall Elliott was quoted at the launch as saying: "Africa is changing fast.

There are new technologies and new approaches that are revolutionising how people live and creating opportunities that we would not have dreamt of a decade ago."

He said the UK government is delighted to support Tanzania in taking this agenda forward through HDIF which will provide support to the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and funds to implement innovative ideas that have the best chance of really making a difference.

HDIF seeks to fund projects which promote innovation to improve delivery, quality, value-for-money and sustainability of basic services in the three key sectors.

It will do this by providing grants to organisations seeking to develop and test new models of service delivery, supporting the use of new technologies through establishment of new partnerships and encouraging involvement of new providers.


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