African Development Bank supports off-grid solar-hybrid systems in Tanzania

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) has given a grant to Tanzania-based JUMEME Rural Power Supply to support the development of off-grid solar-hybrid systems in the country.

The grant, worth $420,000, is to kick-start a project to bring independent solar-hybrid mini-grids to at least 16 villages in the country. A procurement notice on the AfDB website said the initial phase of the project will bring continual AC electricity to 82,000 people and 2,600 shops and small businesses in the northwestern Tanzania. Presently, those settlements have an electrification rate of less than 6%. Bidding documents for the grant are expected to be made available by the end of the month.

Electrification in Tanzania is a major problem. According to an AfDB report in January, electrification in the country stood at just 21%. In 2012, the Tanzanian government released the Tanzania Power Master Plan, outlining the goal of achieving connectivity of 30% by this year. Other plans include the connection of 250,000 customers per year between 2013 and 2017.

Off-grid solar development in Tanzania had been at an accelerated pace for a long time, given the country’s stable political climate and growing economy. In January, the One Million Solar Homes initiative was announced by the government. That project slated to provide solar electricity to 10% of the population and, in turn, generate more than 15,000 jobs in the industry. pv magazine reported at the time that nearly 90% of the population was dependent on kerosene and candles for light. Another recent development in the country was the deal signed between Azuri Technologies, Lotus Africa and Tigo Pesa to roll out Azuri’s service across the country.

The JUMEME Rural Power Supply is a joint venture between Germany-based Inensus, Austria-based TerraProjects and the St. Augustine University in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Details for the grant were originally announced with its approval in mid-January. It is understood that the grant has now been received, having been given specifically to address costs related to technical studies, due diligence and legal and financial advisory services.

At the time, Joao Duarte Cunha, SEFA coordinator, stated, “The success of JUMEME will have a strong demonstration effect for future mini-grids systems developers and operators, and pave the way for stronger AfDB engagement in this segment."

Follow pv magazine‘s off-grid editor here.