QUESTION: What Do Al Gore, the Prince of Wales, Green Energy and New Jersey Have In Common? ANSWER: Tanzanian Solar Power

June 28, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
June 28, 2007 / Bloomfield, NJ- Former Vice President Al Gore recently presented New Jersey supported Tanzanian enterprise, Zara Solar, as a first place winner at the 2007 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. Rewarding only a select five renewable energy pioneers from across the globe, the prestigious Ashden Awards acknowledge and promote innovative projects in developing countries that tackle climate change and improve quality of life. Both Al Gore and the Prince of Wales praised Zara Solar during last Thursday’s ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London; for providing high-quality solar home systems at affordable prices to communities lacking access to a reliable source of energy. As the leading provider of solar PV in Northern Tanzania, Zara Solar has benefited from the committed support of E+Co; a New Jersey based non-profit that invests in clean energy enterprises in developing countries.

Local Tanzanian entrepreneur Mohamed Parpia established his company in 1998. With one of the lowest rates of electrification in the world, only 10% of the Tanzanian population has access to the electricity grid, and in rural areas that number drops to 2%. Living in an area that was completely underserved by the national grid, Mr. Parpia was searching for solutions and found them through the supported business development resources and financing of E+Co. "There remains a huge demand for electricity that the Tanzanian national grid simply cannot meet," says Gina Rodolico, E+Co's Director of Information and Communication. "Yet E+Co believes that by empowering local entrepreneurs, such as Mr. Parpia, universal sustainable energy is an achievable goal."

Through significant business development services, E+Co initially assisted Mr. Parpia with transitioning his earliest company, Mona-Mwanza, from an electrical supplier to a solar PV provider. This preparation led E+Co to invest $50,000 in Mona-Mwanza, supporting the import, sale and installation of necessary systems in 2002. Due to Mona-Mwanza’s continued achievements and sound demonstration that the best solutions to sustainable energy come from within the community; E+Co invested an additional $100,000 in the company in 2004 for expansion, and again in 2006, approving a growth loan for its spin-off, Zara Solar.

"The judges were highly impressed by Zara Solar's visionary and successful business, which has brought solar power at affordable prices into homes in this remote rural region of Tanzania," says Sarah Butler-Sloss, Executive Chair and chair of the Ashden Award judging panel. She continues, "Our winners show how sustainable energy can improve health, education and livelihoods and at the same time reduce carbon emissions. If these technologies were expanded and replicated on a large scale, they would play a significant role in helping us to tackle climate change and poverty."

By establishing a network of trained technicians that provide technical support to the more remote rural areas, Zara Solar and its sister company Mona-Mwanza have provided over 3,600 solar PV systems, directly benefiting over 18,000 people in rural Tanzania. Studies also predict that the continued use of PV systems for the provision of electricity service in the region will generate a reduction of approximately 29,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 20 years.

Former Vice President and Presenter Al Gore, comments that, "The Ashden Awards are a powerful reminder that well designed and managed local sustainable energy initiatives can tackle climate change while meeting the needs of local communities." With only five awards presented to help project expansion and replication, Zara Solar was competing with contenders from Bangladesh, China, Ghana, India, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru and the Philippines. Rewarding the Tanzanian enterprise for its inspiring efforts to create lasting solutions to climate change, the Ashden Awards presented Zara Solar with nearly $60,000 to be utilized in multiple areas; from setting up service centres in rural areas allowing technicians to buy stock locally, to piloting a micro-finance system and marketing solar PV systems on a broader scale.

Having been granted such prestigious recognition, E+Co's investment in Zara Solar is clearly an influential example of the potential international collaborative effort and support can yield. A Clarence House spokesperson said of the ceremony, "The Prince of Wales was highly impressed by the diverse range of outstanding sustainable energy solutions from across the globe. His Royal Highness was particularly encouraged by the fact that these pioneering initiatives offer practical, simple and economical solutions that others can easily follow."

Zara Solar Ltd, is the leading provider of solar PV in Northern Tanzania and First Place winner of the African Award of the international Ashden Award. Zara Solar is an E+Co supported enterprise offering high quality systems, at affordable prices to communities lacking access to a reliable energy sources.

Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy reward and promote innovative projects in the U.K. and developing countries that tackle climate change and improve quality of life. By utilizing local renewable energy, awareness is increased around the potential solutions sustainable energy provides. The Ashden Awards aim to encourage renewable energy engagements across the world. For further information, including details on funders and supporters, visit

E+Co is a New Jersey based non-profit organization whose underlying purpose is to stimulate long-term, institutionalized channels of investment in environmentally superior forms of energy production and use in developing countries. As the leading provider of services and capital to modern energy enterprises in developing countries, E+Co has offices in Bolivia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, the Netherlands, South Africa, Thailand and the United States. For more information



Alisa Conroy | Dwell Creative | 207.772.0066 |

Gina Rodolico | E+Co | 973.680.9100 |