Highlights – Day 1 of Arusha Smart Villages workshop

The first day of the Smart Village Workshop in Tanzania (3 June 2014) gathered experts from science, the private sector, government, NGOs and policymakers to discuss off-grid village energy in East Africa.

The workshop launched with a speech from Mr Lutengano Mwakahesya of the Tanzania Rural Energy Agency, who highlighted Tanzania’s aim to become a middle-income country by 2025.  He emphasised the importance of effective cooperation between the private sector, government and the issues of energy affordability and energy efficiency.

Dr John Holmes, co-leader of the Smart Villages initiative, introduced the initiative and explained its aim to inform policymakers about the needs and aspirations of off-grid communities in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Crucially, the initiative involves close collaboration with national and regional academies of science.

Ewan Bloomfield of Practical Action set the scene regarding energy in East Africa, including the need for capacity building and sharing lessons about what has and has not worked.

We then listened to ‘lighting’ presentations of 5 minutes each by energy entrepreneurs, including Solar Aid, DC Hydro, Embark Energy, Global Cycle Solutions, Serengeti Windpower, UNIDO mini-hydro and mini-grid projects, MOBISOL, and Twende Technologies.

The last half of the day focused on breakthrough technologies for off-grid energy, including organic photovoltaics, sustainable implementation and environmental impacts.

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