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Figure 1: CSOs stakeholders in group discussion during the sensitization session in Dar-es-salaam

Initiatives to shift investments from fossil fuels to decentralized renewable energy systems is an integral part of climate change  mitigation and a socio-economic enabler. In order to take forward this agenda in a successful way, CSOs need involvement and participation of communities and national governments.

Initiatives to shift investments from fossil fuels to decentralized renewable energy systems is an integral part of climate change  mitigation and a socio-economic enabler. In order to take forward this agenda in a successful way, CSOs need involvement and participation of communities and national governments.

It is from those premises that Tanzania as a country benefits from the project Influence the African Development Bank (AfDB) to shift investments from fossil fuels to sustainable energies and increase its outlay in energy access in Sub-Saharan AfricaThis project contributesin the, National Development Vision 2025, National Five-Year Development Plans and National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (MKUKUTA). Altogether, these plans acknowledge this reality that without energy most development objectives cannot be met. At international level, this project is contributing on the agenda 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal 7, in which a universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy is underlined. It is important also to note that the project contributes on the implementation of the adopted Paris Agreement in the quest to increased commitments for its implementation at country to grassroots levels. This is something that can be fully attained through efforts to reduce investment on fossil fuel sources and sustainably continue to attract investment to decentralized renewable energy systems by different financial and development institutions including from the AfDB

Renewable Energy (RE) potential sources in Tanzania includes Solar energy, wind, Geothermal, water (mini-hydro), biomass (biogas) and solid wastes. But there are gaps/challenges that seem to hinder tapping of these sources which include limited technology, lack of equipment to support tapping initiatives, financial resources, inappropriate policies, and conflict of interest among stakeholders (Government, Private sector and communities). Exclusively, aspects of affordability and accessibilityof RE services is among the giant challenges in the endeavor towards a Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) in Tanzania. Engineer Baraka Machumu from Green Conservers, in his presentation during the first CSOs sensitization session held on 23rd October 2019 insisted that “this situation contributes on difficulties to take advantage of arising opportunities in the RE sector. He mentioned the opportunities such as employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, innovation and technology growth and adoption, research, and knowledge generation and expertise building as among the areas where the aforementioned challenges hold back community and CSOs efforts due to limited access to energy in the absence of decentralized renewable energy systems in Tanzania

He made clear that “prosperity of available and existing intervention on RE sector, such as solid waste management for energy production in urban areas may be at threat if the challenges will remain unattended

For a long-term solution to address the aforementioned challenges and existing situation, CalorineManyama, from the Association of Environmental Journalists In Tanzania (JET) suggested that  there is a need to identify responsible leaders dealing with RE at all levels, conduct trainings for awareness raising to target population in off-grid areas, creating Community Based Facilitators (CBFs) as educators to be champions and Agents of change towards Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) systems in the local off-grid areasAdding on her point. Caroline told the session participants that researches should be conducted to explore and assess current situation of the RE and sustainability in off-grid communities, in respect of the challenges and gaps mentioned.

Jeremiah Wandili a participant from NGOs network in Kinondoni Municipality-Dar-es-salaam explained that for years now the challenges have been generally presented in the same way without specifications. This means that, there is no recent information showing how far has the challengeshave been addressed or not addressed by relevant government authorities, or any contribution from the private sector, NGOs or development partners.  He added that it is therefore, high time to zero-in and come up with concrete information about all the challenges in specified sources of renewable energy with focus on certain community or context. This is because the country is big and it is not clear if all the challenges mentioned affects all the areas in the same way, especially in the context of climate change. “He insisted

Sharing his experience from the private sector, Mr. Festo Mbando from SEPON Company Limited(a home and institutions solar systems operator and service provider) informed the participants that talking about technology, some advance steps has been made. For instance, at SEPON, we are using MPPT, which supports operation of the solar system in different weather challenges. It is therefore from this technology, SEPON limited sets solar home systems based on the regional weather characteristics as opposed to traditional practices where the setting focused on the country weather characteristics. He added that, by MPPT, the technology takes into account all the climate change uncertainties and context specific challenges in different localities.

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A participant from Singida (Mr. Fidelis) insisted that in spite of voicing out only about renewable energy to off-grid communities, the value and increased acceptability of the DRE should be backed-up with awareness raising on productive use of renewable energy.  He added that if this is emphasized, it will trigger the community’s call and positive engagement in the transition to DRE. He went further adding that it is important now CSOs to advocate for at least one day per year to commemorate Renewable Energy across the country, where among other things, exhibitions of services, technology, local innovation as contributed by renewable and productive use may be used to build case and attract acceptability of the technology to the general public, and attract investments from the  private sector and the government authorities.

An access to grid electricity was another topic which sparked the discussion. Mr. Joram shared an insight that “We as CSOs should not be overwhelmed by the government definition of the access to grid electrification” He added that we need to develop our definition of access specifically for DRE that will be comprehensible to the target local communities and reflecting affordability of the technology in different localities’’.He concluded his contribution saying that re-defining the access to DRE should also open a room for CSOs to develop/establish a collaborative working modality that will amplify a uniform and informed voice from the CSOs and private sector. priorities and development partners.

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RehemaMmanga from one of the Gender based organization, contributing her views during the session, she stated thatin order to ensure justice is practiced in the transition to DRE, aspects of gender will be possible only if there is guidelines, common voice and evidences that builds realities taking place in the off-grid communities. She went further adding that in the energy sector, gender aspects are not clearly captured in available guidelines, and even the available gender plans and strategies are not reflected in the sector. Therefore, having DRE as a solution, relevant guidelines are imperative and issues of gender and energy in the context of climate change should be an integral part in planning, designing and decision making throughout the process”. She concluded.

These views were voiced out during the CSOS Sensitization session held in Dar-es-salaam on 23rdOctober 2019, being part of the ACSEA project activities as implemented by the Tanzania platform. In this session, a CSOs Learning on Renewable Energy was established.