July 20, 2016 Share

Tanzania’s Solar Powered Future

Solar power is gaining traction across the world with developed countries under pressure to minimize carbon emissions and adopt greener energy policies. Africa is one region which is at the forefront in terms of implementing new green policies. It makes sense that Africa would invest in solar, considering the continent experiences a great many sunny days throughout the year.

Somewhat ironically, Africa is considered by many as being the ‘Dark Continent’ because of its inadequate electricity supplies which have been brought about by an ongoing over-reliance on hydroelectric power as a source of energy production.

In an effort to improve things on this front, the Tanzanian government is quickly moving and encouraging solar powered electricity for use in both households and industrial factories. In a country where only one in four people have access to a consistent supply of electricity, the most successful of promoting green policies in accordance with the United Nations’ Climate Change Convention is through the use of incentives and grants which make it easier and cheaper for local people and businesses to embrace solar technology. Such methods have proven to be very successful in European countries, including Ireland, so Tanzania can learn from their success.

Tanzanian Flag

The Tanzanian government is working closely with the World Bank to encourage the adoption of solar powered electricity across the country. Their main target is the manufacturing sector which is the major emitter of carbon in the country. It has used different strategies to promote solar power including Value-Added Tax (VAT) reduction on solar panels of up to 38 percent. The incentives have borne fruit with several companies having adopted the use of solar power into their manufacturing processes. One prominent example is Tarimo industries, a company based in Arusha that manufactures foodstuffs including fruit juices, yogurt and ice cream for export to lands afar. They run their factories almost exclusively on solar power and it has been reported that they have cut their energy costs by over a third when compared to when they were connected to the national grid.

One of the incentives that the Tanzanian government offers is in relation to renewable energy is monetary loans specifically for the installation of solar panels. This is expected to encourage more people to adopt solar power as the loan is paid off on a monthly basis in small amounts. So far, 33 out of 344 Tanzanian manufacturing companies have made the switch to using solar powered electricity. The World Bank look set to further lower VAT on solar panels in order to encourage its adoption. Its long-term goal is to assemble the solar panels locally to further reduce its production cost.

Tanzania’s greenhouse gas emissions are negligible when compared to other developing countries according to the Climate Plan. The country is currently ranked 98th globally as per the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis, lower than that of any other East African country. With many people across the country embracing the paradigm shift, it is certain that there is a bright future for solar power. It is essential that more companies become environmentally conscious and seek out long-term solutions for carbon emissions as part of contributing towards a carbon-free world where most of the people are able to play their part.