Tunduru. Until 2017, Lukumbule Village in Tunduru District, Ruvuma Region, was not only in dark, but also quiet at night as few economic activities were taking place.
Today, the village which is located some 64 kilometres to the south of the district is busy with activities like welding, salons, as well as shops that have refrigerators, thanks to reliable solar energy across the community.
When one arrives to the village, one will be greeted by poles of electricity wires – a development which has brought a new lease of life by enabling various economic development projects.
Some villagers are tapping the potentials by running welding business, carpentry, tailoring, selling cold drinks, photocopy machines, milling machines, running electronic equipment shops as well as entertainment halls. The solar energy is run and provided by PowerCorner.
Hadija Issa, who is a student, used to study with a candle light but now she can do that in a brighter light.
According to her, the solar power has also enabled her and other memders of her family to watch television programs.
“My family has also the opportunity to watch various programmes on television including news and soap opera,’’ she says.
Juma Ayubu, a villager, says initially they used to travel 64 kilometres to have photocopy services but now the services are available at their doorstep.
Mr Hashim Beno owns a shop and used to sell a maximum of ten bottles of drinks but with his solar-powered refrigerator he says he sells up to 25 bottles of cold drinks.
Tunduru District Commissioner Juma Homera explains that the access to solar energy in that village has helped people to freely do their business at any time.
According to him, Lukumbule Village is near Mozambique border, thus becoming a tourist destination for people from the neighbouring country, who visit the turbines to learn how solar energy is working in the village.
Currently, PowerCorner has connected 150 customers and that the target is between 400 and 600 before the end of the year, according to the company’s project supervisor in the village, Mr Adam Issa.
“As days go by, many people are expressing interest in our projects,’’ he says.
Lukumbule Village Executive Officer (Veo) Bahati Andrea says the village has 198 households with a total of 5,427 villagers and 140 homes had requested to be connected to solar energy.
According to him, initially when he called a public meeting to introduce the project, the majority of the villagers did not understand properly the idea of renewable energy which, to them, appeared unnecessary.
He says the project has so far created employment opportunities to many youths in that village.
“The solar power has brought happiness in our village and that is why you can hear music sounds and people enjoying wherever they are,” says Mr Andrea. PoweCorner project manager Mr Daniel Nickson says for a customer to be connected to solar energy he/she spends between Sh59,000 and Sh177,000, depending on the capacity.
He says his company also provides loans for some equipment like solar-powered refrigerators.
The smallest package of 40 watts is provided at Sh59,000 while 100 watts are obtained at Sh118,000.
A package of 1,000 watts is sold at Sh177,000 and that a package of 4,000 watts for small industries is obtained at a cost of Sh177,000. Mr Nickson said public institutions like health and education centres were connected at a cost of Sh295,000 as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).