SolarWorld solar blog

Solar HOPE Part 1: Bringing solar to Tanzania

Posted 31 August 2011 12:00 AM by John Grieser, Student researcher, SolarWorld Americas

This is the second year I have come to Tanzania, Africa as a member of the Solar-HOPE organization. Each year we design and install solar electric systems for schools and medical clinics. I will be here for a month and will be completing thirteen installations in addition to the twelve we completed last year.

 Solar-HOPE organization - designing and installing solar electric systems for schools and medical clinics in Tanzania, Africa
Solar HOPE Organization bus and driver

We travel to the regions where there is no electricity. Once you leave the population centers, the electric grid quickly vanishes. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest access to grid tied electricity, as 80% are without. Its places like this were the best hope for energy is solar.

Night map showing electricity grid
Night map showing electricity grid across the globe

Interestingly enough, cell phones have been quickly embraced here in Africa. But without the power to recharge the phones, a village member has the weekly responsibility of gathering all the phones and traveling to town where a fee is paid to use a diesel generator.

Cell phones have enhanced the lives of sub-Saharan Africans perhaps more than any other modern convenience. They bring people together and help spread ideas. It has also spurred many entrepreneurial activities. The reason for its success is that it does not rely upon a vast network of telephone lines and communication infrastructure.

The people and governments of these countries do not have to time or money to make such an investment. But wireless technology has brought the same access to communication without the expansive infrastructure network. I believe it is for the same reason that solar will continue to grow and be successful in this region. The energy grid is awfully underdeveloped, and there are no signs of it reaching these rural villages any time soon.

But these are people with a thirst for energy as it is the building block for everything. It provides light, communication and access knowledge.

Ongeeza maarifa, increase your knowledge.

Ongeeza Maarifa - increase your knowledge
Ongeeza Maarifa - increase your knowledge