Responsive image

Energy Safari Alumni Story: Diana Mbogo

Born and raised in Dar es Salaam, Diana Mbogo knows what it’s like to not have access to energy. Tanzania’s largest and one of the world’s fastest growing cities, suffers from frequent power cuts. “Lights go out about a hundred times a year”, she laments. “This, of course, hinders economic development enormously.” In every challenge however, lies an opportunity. That is why Diana set up her own renewable energy business. 

Diana was still a student, pursuing a Bachelor in Science in Mechanical Engineering, when she got inspired to work in the field of renewable energy. During an academic field project, in a team of seven students, she built up a wind turbine to power up a primary school in rural Tanzania and started focusing her research projects on access to energy. A fellow student then showed her an advertisement posted in Buni, an Innovation Hub in Dar es Salaam, calling for applications for a 5-day learning programme in which the main challenges around energy access issues would be explored. A good match, it seemed.

Diana was selected to participate in the programme, organised by the Energy Change Lab and Buni Hub. The ‘Energy Safari’, as the programme was called, brought together activists, entrepreneurs, academics and engineers to work together to find new solutions to energy problems. In Swahili, ‘safari’ means ‘long journey’, and a journey it was. The idea behind the Energy Safari was to prototype possible solutions among the people that need to benefit from them; all in an unrealistically short time-frame. That way, a rich and intense learning experience with unexpected results was promised.

As far as Diana was concerned, the Safari delivered. “It was a workshop… It was a course… It was an adventure! We got a really concrete idea of the energy sector in Tanzania and, because we worked together with so many different people, I was able to build a rich network of contacts. I still work together with some of the people I met during the Safari.”

Millennium Engineers

After the Safari, she founded a company called Millennium Engineers. It focuses mainly on consultancy, research and technical support in the wind and solar sector, but also sells all kinds of small scale energy solutions. “We have solar water pumps, used for irrigation that we sell to farmers and large plantations. We also sell solar mobile chargers that can be used to charge laptops and phones, and solar kits that can provide small houses with energy. Our wind turbines are larger and can be used by hospitals and schools.”

“What drives me is the realisation that energy is the backbone of development. I don’t believe any community can develop unless it has access to it. Energy means access to information, the ability to work more productively and for more hours. It means lighting, security. It’s civilization. However, more than half of the population of Tanzania doesn’t have access to energy. I see it as my duty to change this. We’ve only just started, but business is going well. The market potential for renewable energy is great.”

Also read

  • Nukta: Mbinu Zinazoweza Kuwasaidia Wajasiriamali Kunufaika na Fursa Zinazowazunguka

    03/04/2018

    Arusha. Vijana wenye ndoto za kuwa wajasiriamali wametakiwa kujituma na kuacha uoga ili kutumia vyema fursa zilizopo mbele yao kwa kuchangia kutatua matatizo yanayoikabili jamii. Sisty Basil, Mratibu wa taasisi ya Energy Change Lab Tanzania alieleza wakati wa tamasha la Energy Safari 2018 lililofanyika jijini hapa kuwa vijana wengi wa Tanzania ni waoga wa kujaribu […]

    Read more

  • Nukta: Namna Umeme Vijijini Unavyoweza Kutumika Kuchochea Maendeleo

    Arusha. Wakati wanawekewa umeme kwa mara ya kwanza, wananchi wengi wa vijijini huamini ujio wa nishati hiyo huja na fursa lukuki zinazopatikana kirahisi lakini siyo wote hufanikiwa kutimiza fikra hizo. Ukiachana na matumaini ya wananchi, Mtaalamu wa dhana ya umeme kwa matumizi ya uzalishaji mali  kutoka  Energy Change Lab, Fredrick Mushi anaeleza kuwa hapo awali  hata […]

    Read more

  • Youth Energy Dialogue

    23/03/2018

    According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Tanzania’s population is reaching 52.4 million people, 50% of them aged under 18. How can we create jobs to offer sustainable livelihoods for our youth? The Energy Change Lab is Building Future Energy Leaders, to address the country’s need for jobs as well as address the need for a clean, accessible energy system in Tanzania. Tanzania is well positioned to tap into the huge potential of alternative sources of energy and young, bright minds can help to accelerate the change. In the context of this green energy transition, jobs can be created for and by youth themselves, when they actively take part in the energy debate, using knowledge both from their education systems as well as on the ground, practical knowledge derived from their communities. This Energy Dialogue session is an attempt to create awareness on renewable energy opportunities and to prompt youth in using creative methods to generate a living.

    Read more

  • Shining a light on energy consumers in rural Tanzania

    13/03/2018

    Navigating an unexplored market isn’t an easy task. And mini-grids developers providing electricity to rural consumers in sub-Saharan Africa understand this sentiment well. These customers are among the hardest to reach. In rural Africa, 482 million do not have access to electricity, and most of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. The energy needs are huge, […]

    Read more

  • Youth Find Solutions for Rural Income Generation using Solar Mini-grids

    08/03/2018

    Ketumbeine and Komolo villages are two distant communities in the Northern Zone of Tanzania. They were in the dark before Power Corner and Rafiki Power installed solar powered mini-grid stations in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The arrival of these decentralised energy sources has led to a gradual start-up of new businesses, such as welding, car […]

    Read more

  • We’re Halfway our Safari – ‘Journey’

    31/01/2018

    30 youths from the Northern Zone of Tanzania and surrounding regions have gathered at Ms-TCDC in Arusha from 28th Jan for an exciting Energy Safari, 6 days of deep diving into problem solving pool where participants are be able to get better understanding on energy challenges in the Northern regions and how they can be […]

    Read more

  • Producing a Documentary of the Energy Change Lab – Energy Safari, January 2018

    08/01/2018

    Terms of Reference (ToR) for Consultancy Assignment About the Energy Change Lab The Energy Change Lab is a program of Hivos and IIED. The Lab works with pioneers and change-makers to create an energy system that is sustainable and people-centered. We do this by developing leaders, incubating prototypes, building evidence, connecting people and sharing ideas. […]

    Read more

  • Join Arusha’s First Energy Safari – Call for Application

    10/12/2017

    Safari dates: 28th January – 2nd February 2018 What? Tanzania’s energy sector is going through a rapid transition. There are promising developments in energy financing, policy, and entrepreneurship. But as we often see, change can be slow and fragmented. Why is this so? What can Tanzanian entrepreneurs and citizens do to accelerate change? How can […]

    Read more

  • Shedding a Light on Power Quality in Tanzania

    The problem of unreliable power in Tanzania Access to energy can transform the economic outlook of any country. Yet getting access to a reliable electricity supply remains a huge challenge in Tanzania. Frequent power cuts and voltage fluctuations make it difficult for businesses to operate and for domestic users to go about their daily life. […]

    Read more

  • Umeme Jamii: Re-Imagining Electricity Connection in Rural Tanzania

    14/11/2017

    Citizens have an active role to play in the realization of energy access for sustainable development. Especially in rural areas where the grid doesn’t reach all people. A previous study by the Energy Change Lab, Demanding Supply, concluded that four roles prevail; the citizen as a consumer, prosumer, entrepreneur or active citizen. So people can be […]

    Read more

  • The Citizen: How Solar Power is Positively Lighting Life in Rural Tanzania

    19/09/2017

    As the time was approaching 7:00 pm, the bulb light enables Telesia to prepare dinner for her family. There is no electricity from the national grid in this village of Namikango A in Nachingwea District but in every three out four houses there is one or more bulbs lighting the houses both inside and outside. […]

    Read more

  • Getting Connected to Solar Powered Mini-grid for the First Time

    How can a community prepare for this transformation? In the remote Barikiwa village in Liwale District, Lindi Region, electricity from the national grid has never existed, to a large extent villagers have been relying on unsafe kerosene and diesel genset for lighting and powering machines. However Power Corner, a mini-grid  company has today set up […]

    Read more

  • How Productive Use of Energy Can Generate Growth in Tanzania’s Rural Economy

    Tanzania is undergoing a remarkable economic transformation. But this rapid growth is concentrated in towns and cities and not matched in remote areas; poorer, rural communities are being left behind. A major factor underpinning this disparity is Tanzania’s huge rural-urban energy divide. According to the Tanzanian government’s Energy Access Situation Report (PDF) almost two in […]

    Read more

  • Powering local development

    Powering local development

    05/05/2017

    Blog by Sarah Best, Senior Researcher at IIED. New research from IIED and Hivos shows the potential for energy entrepreneurs to scale up productive energy use in Tanzania. But to make it work, funders and policymakers need to provide incentives, support experimentation, and encourage collaboration. Extending the ‘productive use of energy’ (PUE) for agriculture and small […]

    Read more

  • Energy Safari – Dar es Salaam 2015

    03/02/2017

    Reliable and affordable energy systems for citizens and businesses are crucial for the city’s development. In Dar es Salaam residents experience frequent energy black-outs, expensive, dirty supply, and often no access to energy at all. How can Dar es Salaam’s citizens, civil servants and entrepreneurs transform their energy systems to power their lives and businesses? […]

    Read more

  • Electricity supplies in Tanzania: putting people first

    20/12/2016

    Blog by Ben Garside, senior researcher in the Shaping Sustainable Markets research group at IIED. With the energy sector expanding, how can the perspectives of local communities and end users shape future power? At a workshop that I attended in Tanzania a broad range of stakeholders came together to look at electricity provision (both on […]

    Read more

  • Four challenges to powering local economies

    30/11/2016

    Blog by Sarah Best, senior researcher at IIED. There has been remarkable advances in energy access for rural households. But building the wider economy requires energy services that power new jobs and enterprises. A rush of innovation in off-grid energy markets linked to falling solar prices and mobile-enabled payment schemes has led to an upsurge […]

    Read more