THE residents of Bwisya village in Ukara Island, Mwanza region have a reason to smile following the inauguration of a 38.4bn/- solar-powered mini grid project.
The project is implemented by Jumeme Rural Power Supply Ltd together with its international partners -- the European Union and Energy and Environment Partnership.
According to a media statement issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam, project inauguration was attended by Ukerewe District Commissioner, Mr Joseph Mkirikiti; European Union (EU) Delegation Head of Natural Resources, Mr Gianluca Azzoni; Chairperson of the Bwisya Village Power Committee, Mr Lazaro Kabunga; officials from the Local Government Authorities and partners.
It aims at implementing and operating Solar-Hybrid Mini-Grids in remote settlements in the country and is being co-funded by the EU under the European Commission ACP-EU Energy Facility with a commitment of 17.8bn/-.
The remaining 50 per cent is covered through private investment, both equity and debt. "The mini-grid in Bwisya is the first of 30 systems to be installed by Jumeme over the next two years, supplying reliable electricity to around 100,000 people," reads the statement in part.
One of the Jumeme directors, Dr Thadeus Mkamwa, said the goal is to set up 300 systems and serve up to one million people in rural areas across Tanzania by 2022, making Jumeme the largest mini-grid operator in the country.
He explained that the power system was set up in Bwisya, the largest village on Ukara Island, where initially 250 customers will be connected to a hybrid power station consisting of a 60 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar PV system, a 33 kVA diesel genset, and a 240 kilowatt hours (kWh) battery bank.
The system will also be extended in the second half of this year to connect the other villages on the island with a total of 2,000 customers. For the implementation of the pilot project in Bwisya, Jumeme receives additional co-financing from the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme with Southern and East Africa, Phase II.
Grants for technical assistance are provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Global Climate Partnership Fund.
The District Commissioner for Ukerewe, Mr Joseph Mkirikiti, commented that the pilot project on Ukara Island was a first step towards a sustainable power supply for many of the remote communities in Tanzania that are still without access to electricity.
The EU Delegation Head of Natural Resources, Mr Gianluca Azzoni, noted that the project was yet another showcase of Europe's commitment to help ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services not only to Tanzanian households in remote settlements but also to agricultural enterprises, businesses and public infrastructure.
By 2018, the EU funds in this project will see several mini-grids installed providing electricity to 11,000 households, 2,600 agricultural enterprises and businesses, and more than 80 public infrastructures (schools, clinics, religious buildings)."
Jumeme was founded in 2014 to develop, build, own and operate rural mini-grids in Tanzania.