Tanzania-based Rex Energy Solar has partnered with Solaric, a US-Bangladesh solar innovations company, announcing last week that a new solar power project will provide energy systems to 1.5 million homes by 2020.
This project will provide more than just lighting needs and according to Francis Kibisha, the managing director of Rex Energy, the venture will help create more than 2,500 jobs in the process.
The distribution process of the new solar system will encompass the training of local youth by Rex Solar Energy as artisans to install the system and provide after sales services.
Paul Kiwele, the principal energy officer under Tanzania’s ministry of energy and minerals, has stated that rural electrification is one of the top priorities of the government as it could transform living conditions for many people.
East Africa in general has poor rural electrical connectivity. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2014, in countries such as Kenya only 7% enjoys the benefits of electrical connections, whereas this figure is 10% for Ethiopia, 7% in Uganda, and 7% in Tanzania’s rural communities.
These figures reflect the rate of rural electrification in 2012 and may have increased since then, but not sufficiently. The majority of people in the East African region and the countries listed above still depend on costly and unsustainable forms of energy for cooking and lighting.
The Rex–Solaric venture is set to install systems that have seen success in countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Malaysia.
Solaric, which has devised the systems, states that its 3G solar home systems hold the promise of reduction in capital and operational costs.
In addition, the systems can provide 125V power — that is roughly 10 times more potential compared with their previously installed systems. The figure translates into providing not just lighting needs but also power to support operation of appliances such as laptops, fans and televisions, explains Solaric.
Cash-strapped rural users will be given the option to upgrade their old systems, retaining batteries and PV panels, alternatively the users are required to pay approximately $100 for such upgrades.
That the company is allowing existing users the option to pay only a deposit upfront and the rest in installments spread over a one-year period, is expected to make the systems more affordable.