Building on renewable energy sources to meet Sustainable Development

17Jul 2016
Deo Mfugale
Guardian On Sunday
Building on renewable energy sources to meet Sustainable Development

THE trouble with businesspeople is that they always want to make a bit more money at the expense of their consumers. And this applies to every business and anyone who runs a particular business, be it the sale of goods or services.

Very often the operators take advantage of the consumers’ ignorance of the price of the goods or services that they need. Sometimes the business operators exploit the consumers’ failure to argue or bargain for a fair price.

The lack of capacity to negotiate coupled by ignorance of the current prices has left consumers at the mercy of business operators.

There are cases, however, when business don’t get away with it. Some customers and consumers may not know the current price of services or goods they require but, out of a hunch, they bargain for a lower price and eventually get it without their knowledge that what the business owner had offered was actually the price that needed no bargaining. That is when businesspeople meet their match.

The other day I was almost fleeced by a tricycle motorist when I wanted him to take me down town for a meeting. “No; we are not allowed into the city entre. I suggest you take a bodaboda; they are also not allowed but they always find their wayin and out of the city,” he told me.

Well, he did not know why I had chosen to take a bajaj instead of a taxi or a bodaboda. Very often our choice of transport is dictated by the urgency to reach our destination and the size of our wallets. But then there is the issue of safety. Some people throw caution to the wind and thus do not have concern about their safety. This also goes for bodaboda riders.

“If the bodaboda riders can find their and come back safely, you too can do the same. You are going to use the same roads as they do, aren’t you?” I pressed the young man as I hopped into the bajaj.

“Okay; but you will have to pay ten thousand shillings,” said the young man.
“No, it will be five thousand, that is what I usually pay,” I argued. Of course it was a lie because I had never taken a bajaj ride into the centre of Dar city. Actually he was going to drop me off somewhere on the outskirts, no in the city centre.

“Look here old man, give me eight thousand and it is a deal,” he said. “Fine, you go your way, I will look for another means of transport,” I told him and made as if to disembark from the tricycle.

“Okay, we will go at your price. It would not be wise for me to leave an old man like you here because of a few thousand shillings; I might end up not getting a single cent the whole day today,” he said, giving a litany of reasons why it is important for young people to respect and help senior citizens because that is how they get blessed and eventually prosper in their businesses.

I was in time for a conference on renewable energy for all, which was organised by the Sustainable Energy Forum Tanzania (SEF Tanzania), a civil society organization that seeks to promote clean energy access for poor communities. These have no hope of being connected to the gird in the near future.

A brainchild of WWF Tanzania, the organization also seeks to work with other stakeholders in taking action to combating climate change through, among other things, improve clean energy technology in the rural areas.

Activities of SEF Tanzania are grounded on the engagement all stakeholders - civil society, private sector, financial institutions, cities and municipalities and other subnational authorities.

The list of stakeholders also includes NGOS, government, local communities and indigenous peoples. “The idea behind the forum is to facilitate stakeholder engagement which is fundamental in addressing issues of climate change resulting from energy production, distribution and consumption,” said Josiah Severre, Chairman of SEF Tanzania.

In the course of its work the organization focuses on sharing experiences on technology transfer and capacity building to provide space for Tanzanians to access technologies for addressing climate change and shift towards more sustainable and efficient energy systems.

This would eventually lead to poverty reduction as well as promote social and economic well- being of Tanzanians in general.

Currently, only about 24 per cent of Tanzanians are connected to the grid with 11 percent of the rural folk enjoying electricity. The government plans to connect 50 per cent of Tanzanians to electricity by 2025 and 75 per cent come 2033.

But access to energy is not just about being connected to electricity. The ultimate goal is to see that access to sustainable and clean energy fosters responsible socio-economic development that addresses environmental issues as well.

For indeed none of the Sustainable Development goals can be met without raising the quality of and access to energy.

This calls for developing countries like Tanzania to explore and exploit all sources of energy, particularly clean renewable energy. The more diverse sources of energy are available the more energy-secure a country becomes.

During the conference, the government reiterated its commitment to promote investment in renewable electricity generation particularly through geothermal, wind, solar and hydropower with the view to ensuring energy efficiency in a range of sectors from lighting to small-scale industrial production.

“In addition, the government the government through public private partnership is creating proper environment in the form of workable policies and plans that will enhance private sector participation,” said January Makamba, Minister of State, Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment) when officially opening the conference.

He explained that the focus now is to scale up the participation of small and medium enterprises in the establishment of stand-alone mini grids from renewable sources and increasing efficiency in the power transmission systems.

“This will increase energy access and, with greater access to sufficient and reliable, cost-friendly and affordable energy, Tanzania will be able to meet the targets of Sustainable Development goals while contributing to combating climate change,” he added.

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