First roll-out of solar-hybrid mini-grids in the islands of Lake Victoria, Tanzania

With the financial support from the European Union and other partners, JUMEME, a rural electricity supplier, will electrify 10 islands in Lake Victoria, with a population of more than 80.000 people, through off-grid solutions.

The project’s roll-out follows a successful pilot that ensured the electrification of a village on the island Ukara.

This first phase of the “Micro power economy roll-out project” will see 20 villages electrified by the end of 2018, though the installation of 11 solar hybrid mini-grids. The estimated investment cost will be around EUR 5 million, part of which is financed by the European Union under the ACP-EU Energy Facility, but also through other sources such as AfDB’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and GIZ. The EU is the largest contributor of the project, injecting a total of EUR 7.4 million.

The EU Head of Cooperation, Mr. Jose Correia Nunes, said that ”access to energy is a critical element to empower people, especially women and youth. Ensuring affordable, reliable clean and modern energy is a key area of European Union engagement with the Tanzanian government and the private sector. Sustainable energy, especially in rural areas, is central to addressing the challenge of poverty reduction and ensuring inclusive, equitable and climate friendly economic growth”.

JUMEME and its partners encourage productive uses of electricity by providing a variety of support to the local community, fostering local economic growth. JUMEME’s solar hybrid systems are designed to power even large motors of mills, irrigation pumps, workshop equipment and bakery ovens.

This first project roll-out will achieve 5.000 connections for households, businesses and public buildings such as schools and health centres, that were formerly dependent on hazardous and expensive means of energy such as kerosene and diesel, or had no electricity at all.

For the pilot project, a 95 kW solar hybrid power station was installed in the village of Bwisya on the island of Ukara, which is now serving energy to more than 1000 inhabitants. The project has led to both the growth of existing businesses and the creation of new ones and contributed to the empowerment of women by giving them economic opportunities. Nico Peterschmidt, JUMEME’s Director of Technology and Operations explains: “Based on our experiences from the pilot project and extensive-demand assessment, each mini-grid is designed according to the specifics of the location and we have tested a Pay-as-you-go model that fits the needs of the local population to make the energy affordable.”

JUMEME’s Pay-as-you-go model allows customers to recharge their meters by mobile phone at any time with any amount. It balances demand and supply using time-of-use tariffs and activates pumping loads during times of excess solar power.

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