Penina Boto: A Tanzanian Farmer’s Triumph with Renewable Energy

May 8, 2023 | Serengeti, Tanzania | #RenewableEnergyFinancing

Hailing from Serengeti-Mara, Tanzania, Penina Boto represents the spirit of countless small-scale farmers in the region. For her, days used to be long, often marked by treks spanning 50 meters, carrying water manually to irrigate her crops. This narrative took a turn when she secured a loan enabling her to purchase a solar panel and an irrigation water pump. With the solar-enhanced equipment, Penina’s farming expanse grew from a mere half-acre to an impressive five acres.

In the era preceding the loan, Penina’s dependence on regular home electricity was accentuated by an occasional shift to solar power, costing her a monthly sum of 10,000/= Tanzanian shillings. Additionally, her grain milling venture was powered by regular electricity. Today, as she services her loan, she earmarks between 60,000/= and 80,000/= Tanzanian shillings each month towards it.

For Penina, projects ushering in renewable solutions symbolize hope and predictability. With water at her disposal and solar energy powering her endeavors, she radiates gratitude and encourages her community to be a part of such transformative initiatives. The ripple effects, as she sees it, are multifaceted – job creation, income boost, and ultimately, poverty alleviation.

Navigating the repayment phase of her solar pump loan, Penina emphasizes its amicable structure. The thought of selling livestock to fund solar equipment is daunting, but the loan’s flexible terms offer her respite. Gratitude colors her voice as she speaks of the training she received to operate the new infrastructure and the warranty cover for repairs during the loan term.

Her journey hasn’t been devoid of challenges. Bursting water pipes, excluded from the warranty, meant she had to dig into her resources for repairs. This hiccup, however, doesn’t cloud her optimism. She voices her aspirations to the TAMFI leadership, advocating for more education, equipment, and perhaps water tanks to boost production capacities.

The solar revolution has tangibly impacted Penina’s life. No longer reliant on manual water-fetching, she now enjoys multiple harvests annually – corn twice a year and tomatoes thrice or even more. This not only amplifies her production but also enables better time management.

Penina’s vision is holistic. She believes that the ongoing synergy between the financial sector and farmers could metamorphose Tanzania into a beacon of sustainable farming. Integrating traditional farming with alternative energy could unlock unprecedented potential, scaling farms and yields.

Echoing her story, TAMFI CEO, Winnie Terry, sheds light on the transformational role of renewable energy. Highlighting Penina’s journey from a half-acre to a five-acre farm, she underscores the pressing need for investments in renewable energy education and financing in Tanzania. “Empowering individuals like Penina,” she opines, “can carve pathways to holistic growth, bridging economic development and environmental stewardship.”

This narrative is part of the broader “Energy Access: Building an Innovative Financial Ecosystem for Enterprises and End Users” initiative, steered by TAMFI and backed by the C.S. Mott Foundation. The project’s mandate is clear: Illuminate the merits of decentralized renewable energy, underscoring its potential to bolster reliability while economizing production expenses.