Agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy, contributing around a quarter of GDP and employing three quarters of the labour force in this country of 44 million people. Tanzania’s staple crop is maize, in which it is largely self-sufficient; however, increasing droughts and harvest losses are endangering this, further stressing the 34% of the population below the income poverty line.
Tanzania’s rapid GDP growth of some 6–7% annually over the past decade has come in large part from the agricultural sector, including fibers (e.g. cotton), coffee, tea, sugar, fruits, nuts (particularly cashews) and oils. Much of this growth has come from advancements in farming and harvesting; for Tanzania to maintain its economic growth and generate prosperity it must concentrate on the potential in postharvest value-added, which has received less attention from government programmes.
Adequate post-harvest processing to maintain added value within local agrifood value chains will require both energy and financing. Tanzania, which is one of Sustainable Energy for All’s 14 African priority countries, is currently struggling to expand modern energy access, which is still not available to some two-thirds of the population. At the same time, only 9% of Tanzania’s population has access to formal financial services, and only 4% has ever received a loan from a bank – a situation that has stifled investment in the agriculture sector.
Redavia is a pioneer in multipurpose solar-diesel hybrid farms, standalone high-output solar PV systems that can be employed in a variety of end uses in frontier markets, and paid for via an innovative Pay As You Go model.
Redavia will replicate this product, which has already found success in sectors with similar energy demand (for instance, the mining sector), and does not require up-front investment, in the agricultural sector. Redavia’s innovative business model will replace unreliable fossil fuel-based power from the electricity grid, resulting in 20–50% reductions in energy costs for agricultural processors, while expanding access to nearby communities via mini-grids.
Redavia will be focusing initially on coffee, tea, oilseeds and cashews processing firms, which suffer from frequent power outages and high costs of back-up-generator power.