Category: Uncategorized

The success of hydropower

With the aim of addressing economic growth, social improvement and poverty reduction, the Mwenga project “Mwenga 3 MW Hydro Power Plant” was directed at improving the access to sustainable and reliable energy in fourteen villages in the rural areas of Tanzania. Specifically, the project was to build and operate a 4MW hydro-power ‘run of river’ facility, which would provide electricity to the village, the local tea industry and the national grid.

The construction of the hydro power plant and the distribution network were delayed by nearly two years due to much longer approval processing time than anticipated. However, the project implementation continued for parts of the projects which either had obtained approval or where no approvals were needed, for example preparation of access roads and outline of the power lines and stocking building materials. This pro-active measure ensured that the construction was ready to commence as soon as approvals/permits were obtained.

In March 2016, the ACP-EU Energy Facility Monitoring team conducted a site visit to monitor the impact of the project and provide recommendations for future use. The team learned that the Hydro Power Plant had been constructed with a technical design that according to nearly three years of operation is considered to be in line with expectations and calculations. The number of connections started out by being lower than expected, but a steadily increasing number of applications from new customers indicate the popularity and the affordability of connections.

The project has had a special focus on providing all schools with electricity and this apparently helps retain the high qualified and best teachers, and hence it is expected that the educational level and students’ performance over years will improve. The active involvement and participation at the local level through the constitution of village “electricity committees” are likely to have ensured a sense of local ownership to the project. Through these committees the collection of information related to the power line routing and providing information through project awareness dissemination has effectively supported the project management.

The 2nd phase of the project is currently being implemented. The project entitled “Mwenga Hydro Rural Network Extension into the Kihansi Basin” aims to expand the existing Mwenga Rural Network into the neighbouring Kihansi Basin, in order to supply 17 villages with clean renewable energy. By building and operating additional 204 km of new power-lines, it is expected that this extension exercise will result in approximately 3000 + new rural connections within the first 20 months of commercial operation.

The Mwenga actions serve as good demonstration projects for private sector involvement in the energy sector. The Government of Tanzania is promoting further involvement of private investment in this sector and the Mwenga case can serve well in this context.

Simple measures for improving livelihood

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A recently completed EU project in Mozambique focused on improving the access to clean energy in two districts in Mozambique. The project was implemented by ADPP and the objective was to provide solar lanterns to rural households, reaching 18,000 people and thereby facilitate education of children, provide better illumination and a smoke-free indoor environment for women to do household chores.
Project activities included selection of locations for establishment of 40 LaBL (“Lighting a Billion Lives”) stations; installation and running of 40 LaBL stations, formation and strengthening of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and entrepreneurs.
The project has demonstrated how simple PV-systems and a simple business model can create longer term impacts in rural areas without electricity. The product and the business model have been developed in India, and ADPP was the first organisation to introduce the concept in Mozambique. The project was small in terms of budget, because no new buildings were to be constructed. The solar panels are simply placed close to an existing home, which hereby becomes a LaBL station with a local operator in charge of renting out lanterns to local users.
The charging stations have now been operating successfully for approximately three years with a high percentage of lanterns being rented out each day.
The LaBL approach implemented in this project is relevant and provides a good example for other projects in providing access to better sources of light. The project has succeeded in creating a sustained impact based on testimonies from users. The high level of attention given to post-installation follow-up is likely to be one of the main reasons for this success. The lack of a local market for spare parts is one of the main challenges for the technology promoted in this project, as it is in most other EF-funded projects. In this case, however, the technology promoted is so simple that it should be possible to produce these spare parts locally and create the supply to match the demand that is already there.

Implementing body: ADPP (Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo)

For more information on the Energy Facility projects, please visit the ACP-EU Energy Facility Database.