24 October 2013

How solar is powering business in rural Tanzania

Lumanyaki SimionOldonyo-Sambu, Tanzania – It takes only an hour's drive from the major Tanzanian city of Arusha to arrive in Oldonyo-Sambu. While the distance connecting the small village famous for its giant market and a national hub, electricity has yet to arrive for the villagers.

The Italian conservation organization Oikos helped establish a solar energy program for the village in 2009. Technicians were trained, a building was built next to the market, residents led the business and sales begun. With its work done, Oikos stepped aside to allow the established business to run itself.

Now there are 300 customers for the solar panels, including five primary schools, two health centers and one secondary school. Bringing electricity to the schools provides light for the students and in one case allowed for the introduction of a computer.

“We haven't used the information age enough to solve our problems,” said Ramadhani Kupaza, Director of Oikos East Africa, speaking of Tanzania.
SImion enters his home that is powered by solar cells.Accomplishing that takes electricity. The Community Energy Center sells varying sized solar cells to community members and businesses ranging from twenty watts to one-hundred and forty watts. Options also exist for batteries to story the power captured by the cells.

Oikos staff stay in touch with the program, but have nothing to do with it at this point. With the proper set up, available materials and a technician who can repair broken parts, the project is running as its own business.

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