Solar power could alleviate the seemingly endless energy woes. Yet, it remains on the back burner (so to say), not being given the priority it rightly deserves.
But, Kasulu District in Kigoma Region has a good lesson. It has established a solar energy plant designed to supply power to about 2,000 residents. The 44-kilowatt project can supply power to 732 households. This enables farmers to process and add value to their produce. Solar panels generate electricity with no global warming, no fuel costs - and, therefore, no risks of fuel price spikes.
Solar has the potential of making more vibrant economic activities across Tanzania. The Kasulu District project should serve as an eye-opener for other districts where electricity supplies remain a challenge. Admittedly, the government - working through the Rural Energy Agency (REA) - is doing a good job in electrifying villages. But, it will take time before all rural settlements (including 2,682 registered villages and 64,691 hamlets) can access electric power at all - let alone affordable, reliable supplies.
Installing solar panels is still expensive, so the government should consider revisiting the tax regime on this.
Given the abundance of sunshine all year-round, solar power has the potential to supply a significant amounts of electricity that’s both environment-friendly and economically attractive.