Tanzania review

Yesterday the second part of my trip came to an end and I changed capitals from Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam to Kenya’s Nairobi. My stay in Tanzania, however, began in Kigoma. A small city located in the country’s west. After the busy life in Dakar, Kigoma was a welcomed change to process the events of the first two weeks. Another change that I didn’t mind too much could be seen in the language. Most people are bilingual and speak both English and Swahili.

Tanzania is structured in municipalities, districts and regions and I was able to meet several representatives of the various levels of administration. Soon it became clear, that the access to electricity is a major issue in the area, since all electricity in Kigoma is generated by the Tanzanian electric utility company TANESCO using diesel generators. The entire fuel amount needs to be transported across the country, which is very costly. During my stay in Kigoma I experienced several power cuts myself, ranging from minutes to hours and even days.

Although it was not part of the initial plan, I adjusted my schedule and changed flights so that I can spend almost one week in Tanzania’s capital as well. The reason for that is that many organizations and companies have their headquarters or only office located in Dar es Salaam. Here I had the chance to meet many people who were very positive about the project and it was also possible to meet with the Tanzanian parliamentarian Zitto Kabwe, who met Prof. dr. Wubbo Ockels in Aruba last year.

Below, the main findings and results of some of the meetings and appointments will be summarized in a brief manner.

Rural Energy Agency

The Rural Energy Agency (REA) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Energy and Minerals. Its main role is to promote access to modern energy services in rural areas of Mainland Tanzania (REA, 2013). A meeting with the Director of Technical Services proved that kite power comes at the right time to the right place. Rural electrification is a major issue in the country and experiences more and more attention and support, not only from the government but also from NGOs and companies. Due to his large network and significant influence in the sector of renewables I was forwarded to numerous other entities active in the field.

Tanzania Renewable Energy Association

The member based NGO Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) is an association for renewable energy stakeholders standing for the recognition of the excellence of renewable energy technologies (TAREA, 2013). Its main activities are Education & Research, Information & Knowledge, Projects, Networking and finally services that are provided for its members. More than 35 professional partners exist as of now and I decided to become a member of TAREA myself. It might serve as an ideal base for finding partners for both a pilot project and commercial attempts in the future.

Redcot

Also located in Dar es Salaam is the Renewable Energy Development Company. Redcot is specialized in designing, installation, sales and maintenance of various sustainable energy technologies, among others wind energy, biogas and –fuels, solar heating and solar energy as well as electrical power back-up systems and the transmission and distribution of electrical power. Meeting both directors and explaining kite power technology was a great success. The idea of harvesting wind energy from high altitudes in rural areas is very promising in their opinion and Redcot is interested in working together on the technology in the future.

Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology

Since there are still a lot of research opportunities available on the topic of Airborne Wind Energy, a collaboration with a local university is a great chance to share knowledge and work together towards an innovative solution for reliable and affordable electricity generation. Meeting with the heads of department of all the disciplines that come together in kite power technology (mechanical, electrical and control engineering) resulted in general support of the project and an appointment to meet the principle of DIT as well. Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology has worked with other international universities in the past and is open and positive about working together with TU Delft in the future.

Tanzanian parliamentarian Zitto Kabwe

During my stay in Dar es Salaam, I also got the chance to meet with Zitto Kabwe. The influential parliamentarian has the vision to reduce poverty in the rural areas of his country. He sees a great potential to reach this goal by introducing kite power systems to remote villages, where there is no access to electricity as of now. His knowledge, not only about administrative but also general processes in Tanzania will be of utmost importance for a fast and efficient realization of a pilot project.

Closing remarks

All in all, the visit to Tanzania was a great success. I could not only see and experience the real need for innovative solutions for electrification, but also identify many opportunities how kite power technology can be implemented in the near future. The next step consists of working towards the realization of a pilot project, which can be seen as a milestone on the road to commercial deployments.

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