TaTEDO has successfully implemented a Sustainable Energy Project for Improving Education, Health and Business Services in Tanzania which was financed by Energy and Environment Partnership Programme (EEP). The project was implemented in the period of January 2013 to June 2015
The project was designed with the focus of improving modern energy access services in the social and business centres located in off grid areas. The aim of the project was to install sustainable energy systems and through its successes, the impacts to the beneficiaries could motivate other communities and institutions to request for scaling up and replication of similar technologies. The installed technologies included solar PV systems, solar water heaters and improved cook stoves.
The main beneficiaries of the implemented project were the staff of the respective social centres installed with the technologies i.e. teachers, medical staff, the students in respective schools, the private/ individual households and the communities which access energy services such as mobile phone charging and other services from the institutions installed and constructed with energy technologies.
The project was implemented in different villages of Kilindi, Muheza, Handeni, Korogwe, Simanjiro, Hai, Siha, Kinondoni, Meru, Rombo and Mkinga Districts.
During implementation of the project activities, all stakeholders including the beneficiaries were involved at all stages of implementations such as planning, installation and management of the technologies. The main project activities included identification of the project sites, energy demand assessment for identified potential sites, procurement of various needed project equipment, installation of energy technologies, strengthening the existing revolving funds and providing the core support for managing and implementation of the project.
Most of the areas where the project was implemented faced several challenges related to inability to access improved modern energy services. The problem has hindered delivery of the social services in schools, health centres. Most of the social centres were delivering in-adequate services because of the poor energy services. With poor lighting facilities, the institutions such as dispensaries have been using kerosene or mobile phone torches for lighting during the night when attending patents, delivering women, which posed a lot of health and fire risks. It was not possible to use or power modern appliances such as computers, refrigerators or lab microscope for diseases diagnosis. In schools teachers could not use modern teaching aids for science subjects like laboratory, students could not have extra hours for studies hence poor performances in education.
The electrification of schools, health centres and community centres in 32 different sites have addressed the problem of inability to access the services and the use of the technology have enabled the improvement of efficiency and quality of services delivered in each electrified social centre. The installed systems which had different energy capacities ranges from 100W to 300W were installed in 32 sites which included 20 health centers, 10 schools, 1 charging /business center and in 1 faith based organization for improved social services.
Most of the schools were using inefficient traditional cook stoves, which consumed a lot of firewood; this led into frequent collection of firewood by students or frequent buying by schools management and caused indoor air pollution. In some areas students were wasting a lot of time collecting fire wood instead of studying. A total of 43 improved cook stoves were constructed in 9 secondary schools, 18 primary schools and in 8 other social centers dealing with elderly and drug rehabilitation. The construction of the improved energy efficient cook stoves which use less fire wood/ saves fire-wood have reduced the rate of fire wood collection, and cost by 50%. With such savings, students got more time for studying and the saved money are being used for other developmental activities of particular schools. Moreover, entrepreneurs of renewable energy technologies for productive uses were reached where by more than 20 improved cook stoves for productive uses (baking ovens) were supplied to different women baking groups for income generation in different areas within and outside the project.
The use of inefficient energy technologies by the institutions and individual’s households led into high energy costs. The schools and health centres were using kerosene for lighting, which is expensive and have negative health impacts. Boiling water using fire woods or electricity increases bills in guest houses/ rest houses and hostels. The use of inefficient cook stoves led into frequent collection or buying of firewood so much money was used for fire wood, the higher frequency of fire wood collection also have negative impacts in environment, deforestation rate increased. The use of solar water heaters, the improved cook stoves and solar PV systems which are cost effective energy technologies have significantly reduced the energy costs of the users.
Access to financial resources to do business related to sustainable energy has been a bottleneck to entrepreneurs in off grid areas. The financial institutions have been reluctant to provide loans for energy related business because of the notion that it is not profitable enough. With the project, some energy business entrepreneurs have accessed funds from revolving fund to boost their income, buy the technologies for productive uses and repayments are in instalments. The repayments are deposited into the existing revolving fund and the funds will be used to replicate the technologies in other off grid areas.
The implemented activities have resulted into various impacts in the communities which included increased access to electricity by social centres and communities, the savings for energy costs in social centres and individuals by using efficient energy technologies, increased demand of energy technologies at local level, increased basic knowledge of energy technologies among the local artisans and technicians.
The sustainability of this project has been ensured through capacity building at local level where more than 18 artisans for improved cook stoves and 20 technicians for solar PV systems were coached to provide after sell services and maintenance of energy systems.; on job training to staff, cooks and owners of the sites installed with energy technologies was conducted on the best use of the installed technologies. Mobile phone charging business as source of revenues and maintenance funds was established in each social center, and basic business development skills such as record keeping were imparted to staff to ensure proper utilization of revenues from the charging business.
The implementation of this project has drawn different key lessons and experiences, they include among others ; better planning of the project activities is the key factor for success of the project, the involvement of the local government and the communities is important since it bring sense of ownership, awareness creation on the project objectives, its scope and benefits have enabled its acceptance in a wider community, the slow uptake of technology and decision making can delay implementation of the project, the uptake of technology differs among the communities, and there is still a huge demand un-met on the renewable energy technologies in both rural and semi urban areas.
Moreover, the social economic factors such as low purchasing power of most of the social centres and individuals had impacts in implementation; more time was taken to confirm with beneficiaries prior to installations which led into changes in initial implementation plans of the project so as to suit the prevailing situation.
The implementation of the project has successfully ended with achievement of most of the project objectives. More interventions as a multiplier effect of this project are expected i.e. the replication of the technology to many other social centers using the skills and knowledge of the local artisans and technicians, the uses of the technologies for productive uses which has increased jobs and income earning opportunities, collection of revenues from phone charging business will be treated as maintenance funds and will be used to maintain or upscale for similar systems, the demand for energy technologies which will result into replication and scaling up of the particular technology and the revolving funds will enable the energy entrepreneurs to access funds and invest in the sustainable energy technologies.