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Supportive Solar Technology Maintenance and Adaptation

Many solar Energy products have been introduced many village households in Tanzania. Households and businesses accepted and adopted one or more of this innovative renewable energy technologies as part of research trials or technology promotion services, as a public service or a business. Convinced by the novelty of a technology and/or profit potential of entrepreneurship; early adopters (users and entrepreneurs) could not hold long. Many users have dropped out of effective usage because they had no effective supportive monitoring for maintenance, user support, and strong motivation to attract many more new users. This an operational vacuum in solar energy uses in low income Communities which need to be filled.

Photo of John V. Kimario
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Although modern world has immense project management expertise, energy project interventions in poor communities remain a no managers’ world soon after project /trial close ups.  There is no after business support and or care seen in the field for many years after technology inception. There is weak adoption into new households and community utilities.  As such, renewable energy works falling outside major commercial ventures and governments with long term business contracts, as safeguards, have been left in the cold with no care and supportive monitoring.  The gaps left most of them susceptible to early collapse as businesses or wither as service without new adopters.

Renewable energy innovators into low income communities of Tanzania failed to appreciate the reality expressed by Kurti that:  ”The engine of real social change is connecting real people to real information. Community members must have a solid idea of the central challenges and currently feasible solutions”.  Here is a case, in which people are connected to renewable energy technology for a change; lured to it take up,  but left out with no supportive and corrective information when they experience a technology failure, or when they need replacement, upgrades or whenever a new adopter wishes to join.
The object of this research is the early adopter as a business and/or naïve user/consumer of a renewable energy technology product.  Also the potential adopter who gradually gets convinced and goes around acquiring one BUT comes home empty handed.  The technology mongers are no longer in the vicinity because the project was closed, government had no funds, donor has waived support, or research has closed down or a business has closed operations in the area.

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Photo of Deborah Paterson

Hi John, that's a really valuable insight into the issues surrounding communities in product adoption. Can you share with the community a bit more about the journey a community member might go through? For example from the problem they have (or that someone identifies for them) to when someone presents a technology solution to how they learn to use that technology and what happens once the training and support is gone. How does the community feel at each stage of that process? If it helps to tell the story, by all means get visual and maybe illustrate it in a flow chart or journey map. Thanks for joining the conversation!