Lighting in Rural Tanzania


Turning the Lights on in Rural Tanzania

UN secretary stated that access to electricity is “the golden thread that connects economic growth, increases social equity, and preserves the environment.”

In 2011 only 13.9% of the total Tanzanian population had access to electricity. Eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas and of that population only two percent has access to electricity. After the sun goes down quality of life and productivity go down significantly. 

Quick history: Tanzania’s energy is dominated by the government. It has had many issues establishing a proper electricity source in Tanzania due to insufficient capital, lack of knowledge, poor management, and corruption. 

Residents use biomass to light their homes and cook their food. For electrical applications a diesel generator is used which requires expensive food from urban centers. This makes lighting homes extremely costly and inefficient. 

The cost of lighting ONE home with kerosene can be up to 25% of a family’s yearly costs. 

Currently women and children spend a large portion of their time collecting firewood and water.
Lack of light also contributes to increased thefts and insecurity after the sun goes down.
In 1993 the government tried to fund a generator project which the people were dissatisfied with because it was too expensive and eventually failed. 

SharedSolar is currently in Tanzania with a pay as you go method for electrical billing. Users of this system now spend only 12,000 UGX (about $5 US) per month which is significantly less than spending on kerosene or diesel fuel.
Electricity and lighting can increase productivity (students can study at night and use internet), shops can stay open longer, and security would be increased.

Off-grid Energy Services for the Poor: Introducing LED Lighting in the Millenium Villages Project in Malawi

Traditional solar systems cost around $250 per house which meant very few households could afford them. A single solar powered LED lantern unit costs $25-50. 

Using LED lighting reduces travel time to get fuel, emissions from burning kerosene or biomass, and the carbon dioxide emissions from burning oil for light. LED’s can last up to 50,000 hours and require an extremely low DC voltage and wattage. They are also durable and output light directly. 

The LED lanterns had a payback period of about one year. The battery is expected to need replacement after 1.5 years at a cost of $3. Households were using on average 2.7 h or kerosene light per day vs. 4.4 h of light per day from the LED lantern – an increase of 63%. 

This chart shows that the primary driver behind purchasing the LED lantern is not health benefits, it’s the financial and convenience aspects.
Introducing the project early and getting the community involved early on and not subsidizing the cost were crucial factors to the success of this project.

Why This is Important

Up to 25% of yearly costs can come from kerosene and fuel purchases. This is why people use biomass to light their homes and cook their food. This is a very high percentage of their income being spent on lighting their homes and it takes away from money they could be spending on other essentials such as food or water. 

Spitsen, Paul. "Turning the Lights on in Rural Tanzania." Prospect Journal. N.p., 11 June 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <>.

Adkins, Edwin, Sandy Eapen, Flora Kaluwile, Gautam Nair, and Vijay Modi. "Off-grid energy services for the poor: Introducing LED lighting in the Millennium Villages Project in Malawi." Energy Policy 38.2 (2010): 1087-1097. San Jose State University. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

You may also like

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.