Low quality solar products dominate market
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TANZANIA’s renewable energy market is dominated by low quality solar products, a World Bank report shows. The report, ‘Tanzania In- depth Solar Off-grid Market,’ soon-to-be-published showed quality solar lanterns and low quality solar home kits have a market penetration of only 17 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

According to the report funded by WB’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the market is largely dominated by low quality solar products. IFC’s Resident Representative in Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan Mr Dan Kasirye said the study in general underscores low consumer awareness and knowledge of quality products facing the country market.

“The low awareness of off grid solar products is also reflected in the retail trade,” Mr Kasirye said when launching solar product “Consumer Education Campaign” over the weekend. The report shows that only 27 per cent of solar lantern retailers could differentiate between genuine and counterfeit products.

“This means that when retailers procure products, they do not consider quality but rather go for what consumers ask for or what is cheaper in the market,” The IFC representative said. The report findings, according to IFC, were based on interviews with households in Mwanza and Arusha.

Furthermore, the report found that only 7 per cent of consumers could differentiate between a genuine and counterfeit solar products. He said the findings also “revealed product quality does not drive purchasing decision as consumers mainly look out for price and product multifunctionality when making purchases for solar products”.

Due to the lower awareness of quality product WB-IFC jointly under Lighting Africa/ Tanzania launched a new campaign to promote solar lighting and energy. The two-year campaign centred on consumer education to promote solar off-grid lighting and energy products in rural communities not connected to the grid.

Ministry of Energy and Minerals Assistant Commissioner-Renewable Energy, Engineer Edward Ishengoma said the campaign will accelerate the uptake of the highest quality off grid solar lighting products and services at the least possible cost.

“This campaign will help to demonstrate that renewable energy especially solar is both affordable and good for the economy,” Mr Ishengoma said. He added the government was happy to note that the campaign will advocate product quality something which will be useful in restoring consumers’ confidence.

Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Director General Prof Egid Mubofu said despite having a national standard for Pico Solar products enforcement of the law was of paramount im portance. “In this case TBS, Fair Competition Commission and Tanzania Renewable Association will need to cooperate in order to monitor through surveillance audits at pre-determined intervals,” Prof Mubofu said.

The campaign, will also communicate innovative business models in solar energy such as Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) service, a mobile-money platform that lets consumers pay for the products in small installments.

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