Zara Solar has won the Ashden African Award for sustainable energy. Funded by British industry, the Ashden Awards are based on an annual competition to identify and reward organisations which have carried out truly excellent, practical, yet innovative schemes, demonstrating sustainable energy in action at a local level. Zara Solar's prize is worth (£30,000).
Zara Solar is cited as:
Zara Solar is the leading provider of solar PV in Northern Tanzania. Given that only 10% of the whole population and 2% of the rural population have access to the electricity grid in Tanzania, solar energy would seem to be an obvious alternative. However, the up front costs and the problems with providing technical support to more remote areas, limits its appeal.
Zara Solar has tackled this problem by selling high-quality, reliable systems at affordable prices and by creating a network of trained technicians that provide technical support to the more remote rural areas. Zara Solar and its sister company Mona-Mwanza Electrical & Electronics, have sold over 3,600 solar PV systems, directly benefiting over 18,000 people and this figure is expected to increase significantly over the coming year.
In order to reach yet more people, Zara Solar is exploring micro-finance packages that will allow customers to use the savings made from replacing kerosene, to pay back the cost of the system over time. From savings on kerosene alone, Zara Solar customers in the rural areas could easily pay back the cost of a PV system in less than two years if the right financing methods were available.
We all need encouragement, and encouragement that includes both recognition and money, is the best kind!
You will know from this blog about the difficulties the School of St Jude has had with electricity blackouts. They have had to buy big diesel generators to guarantee their electric supply. I wonder whether solar panels are an option for their new boarding facilities, or the new campus at Usa River? I wonder whether Zara Solar can help them? Perhaps the first priority is to get the new buildings up and running, and the solar power can come later.
Click here to subscribe to this blog.