The Tanzanian government has announced an ambitious initiative that would bring solar energy to as many as 1 million homes by the end of 2017. When all is said and done, the “One Million Solar Homes” project is expected to provide solar-based electricity to 10 percent of the country’s 45 million people and supply more than 15,000 jobs. The initiative will also draw an estimated $100 million worth of investments into the Tanzanian economy.
Spearheaded by the startup firm Off Grid Electric, the One Million Solar Homes initiative will focus its efforts predominantly in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Mwanza, Mara and Tanga regions. The first stage of the project will be funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is providing $7 million for solar installations in 100,000 households and small businesses in northern Tanzania. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, and Sunfunder have also pledged financial support for the initiative.
The One Million Solar Homes campaign will likely be the first of many clean energy initiatives across the African continent in the years to come. In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the U.S.’s $7 billion “Power Africa” project, which seeks to double the electricity output of Africa within five years. Tanzania is among 14 countries in Africa that are implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
Many leaders in Tanzania, including President Jakaya Kikwete, believe greater access to low-cost, clean electricity is critical to pushing forward the country’s economic development plans. More than 80 percent of Tanzanians currently rely on kerosene and candles to light their homes. According to data from the USAID, roughly 70 percent of the population (approximately 600 million people) in sub-Saharan Africa is without safe and reliable electricity.
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