How Can One Push for Renewable Energy in Developing Countries like Tanzania?

How can I convince our country of Tanzania, which is blessed with sunshine almost 365 days a year, to go for renewable energy — especially solar power? It is shameful to see that we don’t use the renewable good energy we have free from God. Nyinisaeli G., Kigoma Tanzania

Thanks for your kind words and insights, Nyinisaeli. The best way to convince anyone about new technologies and practices is to show them what their friends and neighbors are doing – and many countries on the African continent have been carrying out important and cutting-edge programs for decades. Look at the Solar Electric Light Fund’s (SELF) web site ( for examples such as one in your own country. The Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania, located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, is 30 years old but has never had reliable electricity until now. SELF spearheaded a project to bring reliable, sustainable, and clean solar electricity to provide light, run computers, and power a water pump for a tree farm and a refrigerator for storing precious research samples, vaccines, and snake anti-venom. And in Senegal…in consultation with the Government’s Rural Electrification Agency, the village of Thide Nganado in Louga Region has a population of 1,268, has no electricity, and has similar education, health, water supply, and economic challenges as found in most rural villages. To address the most pressing concerns of the village, they are installing solar pumps for a reliable source of water that unlike diesel pumps, are maintenance free and require no fuel. They will be used to supply water taps throughout the village for a healthier and more convenient source of water and they will supply water during the dry season for the initiation of a pilot micro-irrigation program where families will be able, for the first time, to grow crops during the driest half of the year. Nigeria.The Jigawa State Governor Ibrahim Siminu Turaki began a dialogue in 2001 concerning the possibility of using small wind and solar-electricity (photovoltaics) to power essential services in the far-flung villages of Jigawa State. Governor Turaki is a firm believer in using modern technology to jump-start development in his remote and economically challenged state. As a result of numerous meetings with enthusiastic villagers, a very ambitious project goal developed to demonstrate the comprehensive use of solar-generated electricity in a village setting to improve education, water supply, health, agriculture, commerce, security and women’s opportunities – starting in three villages where over 7,500 people would benefit from the results Another way to convince anyone about renewable energy is to show them what industrialized nations are doing. The national programs in Germany, Japan, Spain are real models, as are the ambitious State programs in the United States including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and many others. RE Access has numerous articles on these programs. Recently, in the President’s State of the Union, President Bush articulated the national security benefits of clean energy. And years back, former President George H. Bush extolled the economic benefits of renewable energy as he renamed and upgraded then SERI to national laboratory status as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (that his son as President visited last week). And President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore highlighted the environmental benefits of renewable energy – from clean air and water to significantly reducing emissions changing our global climate. So, I would approach professors and researchers at the colleges and universities in Tanzania and ask them to draft some economic, security and environmental briefs on the benefits of more widespread utilization of renewable energy for transportation fuels, electricity, as well as for heating and cooling – the benefits will surely be profound. In my dealings with developing nation governments, I always ask “do you want to wait for decades for electric grids, clean water and telecommunications — or do you want to start now? If the answer is ‘now’, providing distributed renewable energy focused on social and wealth-building applications is the smartest way to go. And finally, The World Bank Group, including the International Finance Corporation and the Global Environmental Facility are looking for willing governments and smart projects to invest in – so when a program is articulated, don’t hesitate to advise the government or businesses to access these programs composed of low interest loans and grants. And there are many non-profit organizations like SELF committed to sustainable development and clean energy applications in Africa. Good luck – Scott
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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