Power to the People: Bringing electricity to rural Tanzania – Naeem Mawji

Name: Naeem Mawjii

Talk Title: “Power to the People: Bringing electricity to rural Tanzania”

Notes: Faculty: Applied Science, Department: Chem. Engineering, 4th year

Topic: This talk is about an innovative approach to providing conventional grid-based 230V AC electricity to isolated villages in Tanzania through the use of modern renewable energy services such as solar mini-grid systems. These systems allow villages to generate their own power locally and independently with out the need to connect to the main grid. The delivery model of the service is based on prepaid model that allows villagers with low and variable income to afford basic electrical services.

There various challenges that limit the expansion of the national power grid within African countries like Tanzania. The lack of access to electricity is a major barrier to economic and technological growth. In most rural communities, villagers rely on kerosene lighting. Fuel based lighting is associated with serious dangers including respiratory issues due to indoor pollution, bodily burns due to direct contact and fires that lead to loss of property, injuries, and death.

The use of conventional 230V AC electricity from a sustainable power source help eliminate some of these dangers, allowing children within the households to play, eat, study and sleep in a clean and safe environment. The availability of light within the homes also increases the overall security in residential areas and enables village entrepreneurs to develop new businesses opportunities that weren’t possible earlier. Irrigation systems can be installed to increase crop yields, meat/fish/dairy products can be stored for longer periods of time, thus increasing food supplies as less goes to waste. Vendors are be able to sell cold drinks. Heavy machinery, such as mills, can add value to raw crops. Bringing power opens the door to a multitude of business opportunities, and fosters an environment in which creative entrepreneurs can flourish.


Filmed by Craig Ross at TEDx Terry talks 2010 (October 2nd, 2010). Video edited by David Ng.

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