Our largest program, the residential solar lighting initiative. This program has provided over 5,000 rural households with solar lights.
Beginning in the end of 2008 TanzSolar began the Rural Village Lighting program. We imported 5400 solar lights and commenced our village market presentations. We have been selling these lights at a discounted price so the villagers can afford them. They have been subsidized by funds raised primarily in the United States. These lights had all been distributed by the end of 2010 and new products are being introduced.
Since electricity is unavailable and/or unaffordable for most rural households in Tanzania residents of rural regions use kerosene for lighting. Kerosene-based lighting is inefficient, expensive, dangerous and unhealthy. For the villagers in rural Tanzania lighting is one of their largest household expenses, accounting for a significant portion of total household income. Kerosene lamps provide low quality and very expensive light. They introduce multiple health and environmental hazards, as well as a significant fire risk.
Recent cost and efficiency improvements in LEDs have made it possible to create affordable, efficient and long-lasting lighting systems powered with small solar panels and maintenance-free, rechargeable batteries.
TanzSolar began distributing solar-led lighting systems in 2008. After some market research, we determined that the price that local villagers could pay for these solar lights was approximately ½ of our cost to get them the products. Through fundraising activities, primarily with The Global Giving organization, we have been able to raise funds to reduce the price and make these lights affordable and available. Thanks to the support of the Rural Energy Agency, TanzSolar has been attending village markets in the Mara region to educate and offer these solar lighting products to villagers. Educational brochures (in Kiswahili) have been developed and are available for distribution.
The primary outcome will be a vastly increased level of understanding and demand for solar electric lighting and other solar electric products in the villages of the Lake Zone region. As the villagers use these products they will have more money to spend on education and household supplies since they will not be purchasing kerosene. The health of the families will improve since they will not be exposed to the damaging smoke of the kerosene lanterns. Many fewer lung diseases should be experienced. In addition there will be much less CO2 generated, approximately ½ ton per family per year, reducing emissions one of the primary greenhouse gasses.
Every donation received into the Solar Home Lighting program goes to reducing the cost of the solar lighting systems by up to 50%, so that the target market of villagers in the Lake Zone Region of Tanzania will be able to afford their first solar-electric lights.