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Ujambo? News from Tanzania

By Emilie Etienne -- Joël Lagoutte, volunteer from blueEnergy France, recently returned from Tanzania where he led a feasibility study with the social business EGG Energy.

EGG-Energy is a company working in Tanzania, which is dedicated to helping low-income consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa gain access to clean, affordable energy using a strategy based around portable rechargeable batteries. The first contact between blueEnergy and EGG Energy date back to the end of 2010. This led to an exploratory mission in August 2011 to determine how blueEnergy France could act in this beautiful country. After this mission, blueEnergy began providing EGG Energy with its expertise in the area of rural electrification, which assisted EGG Energy in implementing systems in rural areas.

blueEnergy sent Joël Lagoutte, a doctor who specializes in tropical diseases and has spent most of his career working with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Africa (for an  interview with Joel in French click here).  Joël's objective while in Tanzania was to identify villages which could serve as pilot areas to test new systems of portable solar rechargeable batteries in rural areas. His study is entitled: “Initial Community Study for Site Profiling and Selection of EGG-Energy’s Franchised Solar Hubs Project in Iringa Province, Tanzania,"

While Joël's was in Africa he shared his time between brainstorming sessions at EGG-Energy’s headquarters in Dar Es Salaam (on the Indian Ocean Coast) and Iringa, in the heart of Tanzania.

In the Iringa region, he surveyed 21 villages. Through meetings with the village authorities, representatives of public facilities, and the general public, the surveys covered four topics: the social and economic profile of the village, energy issues at the household level, energy issues at the community level, and the identification of potential franchisees.

Health and education in the villages around Iringa
While all of the villages have access to running water, the water quality is unknown. Children have access to primary school; there is also a secondary school in all wards. There is a medical dispensary in every village and a referral health center in all wards with a standard of care corresponding to the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

No systematic access to energy
The national electricity company does not reach these villages. The source of lighting for the majority of the population is from the use of kerosene lamps - despite their scarcity and high cost. The primary schools do not have electricity. Secondary schools have electric systems (solar or generators contributed from donors) but often these systems do not work. Almost all health facilities are well-equipped with electricity, usually through solar installations donated by NGOs and churches.

The main users of energy in all villages are the milling machines and mechanical workshops whose size and number depend on the wealth of the village. For the households it is lighting and mobile phone charging.

The development level varies greatly between each village; rice farmers are quite rich, which is not the same for corn farmers. Consequently, the richer villages are willing to own individual solar panels, while the poorer are more interested in the EGG system.

A promising study
Thanks to Joël’s study 5 villages have been identified for pilot projects. Pictures will be available soon,  but in the meantime, please view this video to get a sense of EGG Energy’s work in Tanzania. 

(Ujambo means "how are you ?" in swahili)

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