Ana is going to have electricity in her home tonight, for the very first time, courtesy of Eternum Energy and Cedar Tanzania. She peeks through the curtained door and watches Thibault from Eternum Energy, explain to Claire, from Cedar Tanzania, how the whole Solaris unit works. Its brand new wires and white sockets stand in stark contrast to the chipped earth-cement walls that make up her cramped two room home. But she has welcomed us warmly and now listens intently.
Thibault is on a role. He speaks fast, his English sporadically slurred with the tones of a French accent. His hands are animated moving from one button to another, using technical terms like A/C D/C converters and sealed lead acid battery for storing energy. All this is not part of our everyday language, but this is a “Plug and Play” device, something that Thibault is very proud of.
So Ana thankfully, does not need to know the ins and outs of this technology. She only needs to follow the straight forward steps that the Solaris technician or Solaris ‘Rafiki’ (‘friend’ in Kiswahili) has already explained to her. She knows now how she can plug in up to nine USB based recharger cables in to the Solaris Unit. She has already been provided with the USB chargers as part of her installation fee of $3.5 (7,000 TZS). And Ana understands how her weekly payments of $1.8 a week (TZS 3,500) for three years will allow her to own the whole Solaris unit out right.
Her Solaris Rafiki has already explained to her how the lead battery will store the energy, from the 20W solar panel installed on her roof and how this will come in handy on rainy and cloudy days. She understands how to clean the solar panel if there seems to be a problem with the recharging of the unit.
Her Solaris Rafiki’s number is already saved on her phone, a phone that she has charged for the first time in her own home.
Usually she tells us, she has had to recharge her phone at the local Kamanga ’duka’ or store, where they have a generator. Even though the village of Kamanga is on the electricity grid most of the villagers cannot afford it, and the intermittent way it is turned on by Tanesco (Tanzania’s Electricity Company) has not given Ana any incentive to get her home hooked up.
Eternum Energy’s Solaris initiative has recognized the need for affordable and easily accessible electricity. And tonight when Ana’s brother continues to study, past the twilight hours, by the light of the new installed bulb, she and her family will be a testimony of Solaris initiative and Cedar Tanzania’s success.