Integrated solutions to energy access in Tanzania
Despite the government’s deliberate initiatives to reach more people, Tanzania lags behind in its grid electricity connection targets. Only 24.5% of rural households in Tanzania have access to electricity. To help realize a future where all people enjoy the benefits of modern energy, Pact develops solutions and implements projects to expand access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and the means to use energy productively. Although we believe in a clean energy future, we approach the energy access challenge pragmatically, working with communities and the private sector to identify the most sustainable, cost-effective solutions.
In 2019, Pact responded to a need expressed by communities we serve through the Kizazi Kipya project – lack of energy sources for lighting and economic-generation activities. While the Government of Tanzania had begun their rural electrification program, rural communities remained unreached and electricity through the main grid was prone to power cuts, affecting productivity. With seed funding from Pact, we started a pilot program to establish a value chain linking solar product suppliers to community saving-and-lending groups under Kizazi Kipya. The suppliers provided a variety of solar lanterns and portable solar-powered mobile phone charging stations to the groups, which sold them in their communities to make money.
The pilot created a sustainable supply of products that could be purchased on credit, with the groups collecting installments from the customers. Within 18 months, 1,033 households and 5,165 family members had improved access to energy through the pilot.
Building on this work, in 2020 Pact created several strategic alliances to further improved access to energy for rural households. With Villageboom, EEP Africa and the Jane Goodall Institute, we are implementing the “Solar Light Women Group Campaign.” The campaign is a proven method that enables participants to upgrade to bright solar lights from basic kerosene lamps, an important step toward improved livelihoods for many families. The campaign expects to benefit 24,000 households in Tanzania with Villageboom high-power lamps.
Pact also partnered with Schneider Electric to improve the sales, marketing and distribution of off-grid solar products while providing market intelligence and community engagement support to the private sector, acting as a bridge between potential customers and companies. Similar cooperation agreements were signed with Simusolar and Greenlight Planet. These alliances have the potential to reduce energy costs and increase income and revenue, while communities enjoy reduced air pollutant emissions associated with conventional energy and hydrocarbons.
As the international community continues to look for innovative ways to expand access to energy and finance this work, partnerships like these serve as models for what’s possible. In a forthcoming blog, Johns Hopkins University graduate students explain the results of an evaluation of four main energy financing models. The study relied on Pact's presence in Tanzania and our experience developing financing models for solar energy in health facilities as a case to explain, analyze and better understand micro-financing models. The links between energy and healthcare are attracting more attention, especially in ensuring a viable cold chain for Covid-19 vaccinations. While our focus should be on meeting the immediate challenges of the pandemic, there is an opportunity to expand access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy not just for rural households, but also for health facilities with a long-lasting impact on improving health outcomes.
Our years of work in Tanzania in the health sector with programs like Kizazi Kipya have been a cornerstone to these thriving and innovative partnerships. Integrated programs like this can positively impact both health and energy outcomes.
As the Swahili saying goes, “Adui wa giza. taa,” the enemy of darkness is light. Pact and our partners strive to fight darkness by enabling a brighter future for Tanzanian communities.
This work would not have been possible without our dear colleague Leo Msanga, who passed away in 2020.