Tanzania: Solar Energy Transforms Life in Mtwara

Newala — For Dadi Nandiwa, a shopkeeper at the Newala Town business centre, life is changing fast after the installation of solar PV at his shop. Sales have grown by almost 30 per cent. He can now extend operational hours to 10pm. Before that he was closing business around 7pm.

Nandiwa also reports changes in the kerosene purchasing trend, which he associates with the installation of solar PV by several communities.

At the household level, Husna Ally, a pupil from Miyuyu Primary School can now extend her study hours to midnight because of light from solar gadgets.

She says solar light at the business centre helps her mother to sell her goods from morning to late evening. The money from the business helps in buying her uniforms and exercise books for her child.

Electrifying rural areas poses unique challenges for African governments. Remote and scattered rural homes, unlike homes in urban areas, are costly and often impractical to connect to the grid.

Countries are seeking innovative alternatives to give rural families efficient means to cook their foods and light their homes. Stand-alone sources of energy, such as solar, wind and mini-hydro generators, can help fill the gap.

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In Tanzania, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) is working with a local civil society organization, Mtwara Action For Self-Help Activities (Masha), to change life patterns of Miyuyu Villagers, Newala District.

Masha aims at fighting poverty, disease, ignorance, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity through collective action, community mobilization and empowerment to change the outlook of Miyuyu Village.

Despite lacking power connection to the national grid, the village enjoys the benefits brought by the alternative power sources.

"The electrified business centre helps youth and women engage in business and makes them extend time for doing business," according to Masha director Allan Mkopoka.

He pointed out that the fourth phase of the project focuses on seeing the citizens of Miyuyu Village have a means of generating income through availability of renewable energy technology.

The previous phases of the project focused on conservation activities that supported about 240 out of 280 households to adopt the use of improved cooking stoves.

"There is a good trend in the adoption of solar technology from four households in 2016 to 60 households this year," Mkopoka revealed.

Masha secretary Veronica Chabruma says the project wants to ensure the application of renewable energy within the region to help local communities promote the fight against climate change and its actions.

It also aims at fostering the creation of society that is resilient to climate change.

Both officials are grateful with the continued support from WWF-TCO that has significantly changed peoples' livelihood.

"The WWF is happy to see that the local community have the means of sourcing their livelihood that are environmentally friendly," says WWF-TCO energy coordinator Savinus Kessy.

Access to energy in Africa is too low to meet development objectives. As of 2016, four out of ten people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have access to electricity, compared to about nine out of ten globally.

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