Solar power plant brings new hope for Meru villagers

06Feb 2019
Beatrice Philemon
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Solar power plant brings new hope for Meru villagers

THE installation of solar power plant in Ngurdoto village of Meru District has brought in new hope for women and youth in the area, which is inhabited by Meru people, who have arrived to the slopes of the great mountain around 300 years ago coming from the Usambara Mountains in Tanga Region.

Before the new project, villagers relied on candle and kerosene lamps as their lonely source of power. But, now the installation of solar power plant in the hilly and mountainous area of Ngurdoto brings changes for the village, located on the foothills of Mount Meru—the second after Mount Kilimanjaro.

Veneranda Lyimo is one of villagers, who are too optimistic on the project, saying it takes them to a new era, lauding the efforts made by the Tanzanian government in collaboration with the Korean government for coming up with the cost-effective power project in the area.

The 59-year-old woman says they have been in the area in 1973 and all those years they were living darkness, “but now we’re happy to see light from solar power plant installed in our village.”

Sitting on her plastic-made chair outside her house, Veneranda expresses her hope that the new power plant will transform people’s livelihoods in the village as more people will open up more business opportunities as well as easily linked to the world.

According to Veneranda, a mother of four, through the use of ICT gadgets, such as mobile phones, social media and main stream media such as TV and radio, people would be able to see what is happening in the world.

A farmer-cum-cattle keeper in the village says: “I was among people who were excited when we heard about the installation of the solar power plant in this village, but now I have come to realise that it was a daylight dream as today we have got power in our village , thanks to Korean Government to built solar power plant worth 150m/-, so that people can set-up income generating activities, have better life, have better life, get lighting and improve rural productivity .” “I feel like I am in Europe. My plan is to buy a fridge so that I can set up small businesses, something which wasn’t the case in the past,” she says, adding that other plan is to embark on poultry farming.

The project will provide room for villagers to reduce health hazards by enabling replacement of smoky kerosene lamps.

Neema Uriyo is a headteacher at Ngurdoto Primary School also says the new solar power plant can transform education in the area as hours for schoolchildren to stay in classes will be added due to improved lighting.  

The school teacher says teaching and learning materials will also be improved as teachers would use ICTs gadgets such as projectors to teach in classrooms.

“I express thanks to the Korean government and Ngurdoto village government for connecting us with solar power. This is a redeemer to us as many things will be done using solar power such as providing clean and safe water as well as irrigation, which will also scale-up food crop production,” the school teacher says.

Currently the school has one ICT experts who normally teach students on ICT, he said, calling on the Korean government to assist them with 30 computers that will use it to teach students and teachers.Currently Ngurdoto Primary School has 800 students, 17 teachers, 14 classrooms, and they still need two three classrooms for students, two computer rooms that will be used to train other teachers on ICT.

Highlighting on what are the plan for 2019 Arusha -based Innovative Technology and Energy Centre (ITEC) managing director Dr Herb Rhee says that in August this year, ITEC plan to build  solar power plant in other villages in Arusha region because the centre would build one solar power plant every year in rural villages in Tanzania so that can be a mother for rural electrification for off-grid villages.

“We did it in January this year and we will do it in August to help villages that has no access to electricity,” he noted.