Last night, on the island of Mauritius, the annual Green Africa Award ceremony was held to recognize organizations championing environmental change in Africa and the Islands of the Indian Ocean Region.
TanzSolar received the Award for Green Business & Environmental Management. There are nine other categories recognized, including Cultural Heritage, Green Development & Land Use, Tourism & Hospitality, Innovative Technology, Green Media, Environmental Education and Natural Resources Protection.
Since 2007 TanzSolar has been working in the rural, northern regions of Tanzania to bring clean, renewable solar energy and electric lighting to village homes, schools and medical facilities. TanzSolar is a nonprofit Tanzania based company that has distributed over 7,000 subsidized solar-lighting systems. Nonetheless millions of rural households and businesses remain without access to electricity, so this work is just beginning.
In much the same way that cell phones have replaced the need for telephone lines throughout much of the African continent, solar electricity generation has the potential to eliminate the need for extensive power lines and central station electricity generation. Tanzania has a very limited power distribution system, reaching only 10% of its population of 45 million. Even with this limited reach there is often insufficient power available to supply the electricity required, resulting in regular power outages.
Solar energy, by contrast, is in abundant supply and getting more and more affordable. While it is still too expensive for most rural Tanzanians, with subsidies TanzSolar has been able to make this technology available. Of course, solar electricity generation has only flourished in the US and Europe because of subsidies, so it should come as no surprise that the Least Developed Countries of Sub-Saharan Africa should also require assistance. Solar electricity can enable environmentally sustainable development in Africa.
For more information about TanzSolar and solar lighting in Tanzania see: www.TanzSolar.org.
For more information about Green Africa Awards see: http://www.earthmauritius.org/#!__green-awards