A trip to the South East of Tanzania, gets you to Lukumbule village in Tunduru district, Ruvuma Region. On the GPS, the now to the now famous, as opposed to two years ago, the rural village is located at 11° 34′ 0″ South, 37° 25′ 0″ East.
From the onset, you are welcome by several people going about various economic empowerment activities. From welding, to barber shops, food kiosks, grocery stalls that are even booming at night. All these is as a result of the installation solar energy across the village.
On almost all the streets of the locality, you will not fail to spot people here and there enjoying sips from their favourite drinks. In the background, there is soothing music while others are busy glued to the TV either catching on news, sports or movies. This is the case whether day of night in the once dark village of Lukumbule.
Economic Impact of Renewable Power Connectivity in Lukumbule village
The coming of renewable energy in the village has for sure rejuvenated life in the areas as seen in the numerous socio-economic activities that are speared out in the town. For instance, there are some villagers who taped the potential in running welding business, carpentry, tailoring, selling cold drinks, photocopy machines, milling machines, running electronic equipment shops as well as entertainment halls.
PowerCorner, is the company that is behind the new talk to the town. The company has heavily invested in installing solar energy stations and distributing to the rest of the area.
According to one of the beneficiaries, Abina who runs a welding business reports that his business has so far created two employment opportunities to the youth in the village who are helping him at his facility. In an interview with Haika Kimaro (a Tanzania-based journalist) the businessman says that his cash flows have tremendous liny increased as a result of the solar energy. “I now get TSh95,000/- every week up from TSh20,000/- that I used to earn previously before the coming of the solar power,’’ reported Abina.
PoweCorner Project Manager, Daniel Nickson says for a customer to be connected to solar energy he/she spends between Sh59,000/- and Sh177,000/- depending on the demand and that all other equipment like poles and bulbs, among others are offered by the company. He says that his company also provides loans for some equipment like refrigerators.
The smallest package of 40watts was provided at Sh59,000/-, while 100watts were obtained at Sh118,000/-, Watts 1,000 (Sh177,000) and that a package for small industries of 4,000 watts was obtained at a cost of Sh177,000/-.
How Renewable Energy is Power is Changing Lives
Hadija Issa, student added outlined the benefits of the solar power I homesteads. She attested that her private studies at home have now improved as she can study for longer hour unlike before when she relied on candles for lighting.
According to her, renewable energy has made her and family members to watch television. The family can now stay updated on what is going on in the country and abroad. “My family has also an opportunity to watch various programmes on television including news and soap opera,’’ she says.
The township also hosts other business people like Juma Ayubu, who runs photocopy services. This is a new business venture that was initially nonexistent in the area when there was no power connectivity.
Hashim Beno, is another businessperson who sells drinks in a retail shop. He says that he uses solar energy to refrigerate refreshments. On a good day, he says that he can sell between 20 to 25 bottles unlike before when the sales volumes were down at only 10 drinks for a whole day.
Expert Comments on Renewable Energy
According to Adam Issa, an official of PowerCorner who supervises the project in the village, PowerCorner Company has 150 customers, although the number will son hit 600. The reason for this is that there are many people who have expressed interests in being connected to the grid.
Interestingly, a report by Bahati Andrea, the Lukumbule Village Executive Office, 140 households out of 198 comprising of 5,427 villagers had requested to be connected to solar energy.
He says that the project has so far provided employment opportunities to so many youth in that village. “The electricity has brought happiness in our village that is why you can hear music and happy people enjoying all over…” he added that initially the residents did not idea any idea of the potential of solar power.
Comments from the Local Administration
Tunduru District Commissioner (DC), Juma Homera says that availability of solar energy in that village has equally helped the neighbouring villages of Kazamoyo and Imani, adding that people can now freely conduct their business at any time.
The DC says that citizens have equally been visiting the centre of turbines to witness how solar energy was working. According to him, Lukumbule village was near Mozambique border, thus becoming a tourist destination for people from the neighbouring country who come to learn how solar energy is working in the village.
According to Mahama Kappiah, the ECOWAS Director General, ECOWAS has been insisting on the need to invest on renewable energy. Speaking in Accra during the energy forum, the DG underscored on the need to invest on renewable energy especially on projects that can solicit loans from major financial institutions including World Bank.
ECOWAS members believe that Universal access to energy can be reached only through a combination of solutions including traditional grid-extension and infrastructure investments as well as investments into innovative off-grid solutions that target rural and low-income households. However, scaling up renewables in line with their potential to meet energy security, energy access and climate objectives requires more significant investment than currently forecasted.
“Over 1.3 billion people in the world out of which 700 million are in Africa are expected to be connected to renewable energy which is environmentally friendly and 80 per cent of Africans are using local means to cook which are even dangerous for their health,’’ he said.