Providing energy solutions that create value to people’s lives and environment in Tanzania and beyond
One-on-One with Prosper Magali, Founder & Director at Ensol Ltd
Tell us more about Ensol, your vision and what motivated you to create Ensol?
Ensol was established in 2001 at the time when the electrification rate was 10% nationally and 1% in rural areas. We wanted to contribute to the efforts of electrifying our people in Tanzania and we thank God that today, with our contribution and other players, the electrification rate in Tanzania has grown to about 80% with a connection rate of 40%.
What is Ensol’s focus right now? What could you say is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Our focus has a bit shifted and we are now not only focusing on the Tanzanian market, but also on other African markets. Already we have won a contract with the Renewable Energy Agency (REA) to develop solar minigrids in Zambia, together with a local partner there. We have started in Zambia but hope to expand further to other countries including Malawi, DRC and South Sudan. Our biggest accomplishment, I can say, together with many others is to build a network of international and national partners that we can work with. This has made us achieve a lot of success in the industry.
Discover our work and its impact within the Tanzanian community
How does it look like to develop minigrids in Tanzania? What would you say are the drawbacks & opportunities to develop minigrids in Tanzania? Any progress you would like to highlight? Or how do you see the industry changing in the coming years?
As everyone is aware, Tanzania was a pioneer in creating an optimal environment for minigrid development with the best regulatory framework that has been replicated by other African countries. However, conflicting political interest, with the government largely pushing for massive grid extension in rural areas has shrinked the minigrid market in Tanzania, with currently only a few islands left for minigrids.
Nevertheless, I believe that the minigrid market will eventually come back in Tanzania after the realization that the grid cannot just be extended everywhere. The high cost of building new grid lines to areas with no economic returns, high transmission and distribution lines maintenance cost, and the difficulty in quickly responding to customer technical issues are some of the reasons that would bring back minigrids. As stakeholders in the sector, it is time to start advocating for this, in particular at the political and policy-making levels.
Mail Guardian has just recently published an article that highlights how minigrids are lighting up Africa and Development partners are scaling up these renewable energy grids in Madagascar, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. What’s your take on this? Are you seeing investments flowing?
There is massive increase of investment in DRE of recent. However, the current investment does not go with the pace we need to achieve universal access to modern energy by 2030. The Global Landscape of Renewable Energy Finance 2023 report jointly prepared by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) shows that global renewable energy investment reached a record high of USD 0.5 trillion in 2022 but represent less than one-third of the average investment needed for each year between 2023 to 2030 to be on track to achieve SDG7 by 2030. Moreover, Sub-Saharan Africa with more un-electrified people received less than 1.5% of the total global investment between 2000 and 2020. In 2021, investment per capita in Europe was 41 times that in Sub-Saharan Africa and 57 times more in North America. This shows global efforts are not targeting where the centre of the problem is, and we all need to advocate for change.
The United Nations has set a target to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Where is Tanzania at in achieving this goal? In your opinion, what is the pressing issue that needs to be addressed to reach this goal and how is Ensol contributing to this?
Tanzania is right on track to achieve the same by 2030. The government has set a target of electrifying all the villages with grid electricity and DRE by the end of 2023. There are also grid hamlet electrification projects and densification projects which aim at increasing the grid connection rates. Minigrids are also contributing to this target and have been given the islands in Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Indian Ocean. Ensol is working with different partners to contribute to the electrification of islands with solar minigrids.
You have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United Nations to discuss the pressing needs to ensure the just energy transition and mitigate climate change in Africa, what would you say is the immediate action that should be taken?
Indigenous energy entrepreneurs can make a huge difference to bring access to modern energy and mitigate climate change in Africa if they are empowered. Local companies and entrepreneurs understand better the local environments and are there to stay. Uplifting them with capital, investments and facilitating them to reach the last mile could quicken the target of universal energy access for all by 2030.
Let’s get to know you on a personal level, If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Listening is my top superpower. I enjoy listening before I can speak. I pay attention to details to understand before giving a comment. I understand people more because I listen to them first.
About Ensol Ltd
Established in August 2001, ENSOL LTD is a 100% Tanzanian company. The company is registered with Contractors Registration Board (CRB) as an Electrical Contractor specializing in Solar Energy. The company is also a corporate member of Tanzania Solar Energy Association, an umbrella organisation uniting all RE practitioners. ENSOL’s main focus is to provide leadership in offering best quality and cost-effective solar energy solutions through innovative and best engineering practices which will guarantee return on investment socially, environmentally and economically. Learn more at ENSOL (T) LTD and follow the company on LinkedIn.
By Emmanuella Ngororano, AMDA Communications Associate