Mkonge Energy Systems Limited (MeS)

Mkonge Systems Company Limited (MeS) was incorporated in January 2008. The company is a joint venture between Katani Limited of Tanzania with 80 percent of the shares and Chengdu DeTong Environmental Engineering Company of The Peoples Republic of China who have 20% shares. The companyís focus is on the development of the renewable energy sector through creation and promotion of energy projects in Tanzania and other East and Central African countries.

The company is presently engaged in a number of projects for power generation both from biogas and from hydropower. It has since 2008 been operating the first of its kind biogas plant at Hale and plans to build another biogas plant at Mwelya during the coming five years. Thereafter biogas plants will be built on three remaining estates and in other estates owned by other sisal companies.

The future of the sisal industry is bright due to new utilizations in the construction sector, in the steel sector, in the automobile sector and in the composites sector where sisal is used in reinforcing plastics and other resins. The utilization for the residual biomass [hitherto called "waste"] for energy and fertiliser has given an added advantage and momentum to invest in the sisal industry. The sisal industry in Tanzania has a vision to produce 1,000,000 tons by 2030 and sisal is one of the priority crops outlined in KILIMO KWANZA - Tanzania's initiative to bring about rapid agro-industrial transformation. Katani Limited has been at the forefront in many of the sisal transformational developments. In 2009 the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Natural Fibres to bring to the world attention the increased importance of natural fibres [including sisal] in the world economy. This is due to their technical qualities, renewability and environmental friendliness.

Tanzania's socio-economic development requires massive investment in energy if the Vision 2025 MDGs are to be achieved. Only 14% of Tanzanians have access to electricity and in order to become a middle income country around 15,000 MW have to be generated compared to less than 1000 MW currently being generated in the country. Likewise, significant investment in schools, teachers' houses, hospitals, rural warehouses and factories and inner city housing is needed in the face of ever increasing urbanisation. Therefore the demand for affordable housing using locally produced building materials is very high in the country thus energy supply.

Katani Limited has, since its inception in 1996, embarked on the development of renewable energy production using biomass and hydropower. After the enactment of the 2008 Electricity Law allowing private generation of energy to sell in the grid and to distribute, Katani Limited accelerated its efforts of venturing into energy generation and distribution. Katani has, since then, developed various projects, which are now ready for implementation. This includes the diversification and value addition program into energy and sisal-based building materials projects.

In doing so the incorporation of Mkonge Energy Systems (MeS) Ltd has been done to go into strategic Joint Ventures and Cooperation with various partners and stakeholders. Some power projects already running developed for own use and sale to the grid. These are the construction of the first sisal biogas to electricity plant in the world - a commercial size industrial power pilot plant which utilizes sisal biomass residue [hitherto thrown away as waste] to produce biogas, electricity and organic fertilizer. This 300 KW plant was built in 2007 by Chinese, German and Tanzanian Engineers [from the TPDF Engineering wing (Nyumbu) and Katani Ltd] at the Katani Limited estate of Hale in Tanga Region. The approach now is to replicate the plant in all the 5 Katani estates each with a 1 MW capacity to start with and then potentially to all the sisal estates in Tanzania where currently there is scope to build 42 of them. The sisal estates in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa would also be potential targets. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization [UNIDO], which was the Project Coordinator for this International project, has already prepared a feasibility study made available to Katani to use for the replication. The biogas plants on the 5 Katani sisal estates will utilize the 96% of the sisal leaves presently discarded as waste in the production process at great financial and environmental cost.

Environmental regulations instituted in Tanzania demand cleaning up of the sisal production process and this project provides the solution to this recurring problem. The project will contribute to Katani's efforts to reduce the cost of production. The use of Biomethane [from biogas] as a fuel in vehicles will reduce the use of fossil fuels in sisal production process and thus reducing costs and contributing to reduced foreign exchange demand for importing diesel and petrol.

The use of the liquid effluent from the biogas production process as a fertilizer will increase crop productivity and farmers' incomes. The biogas projects on the five sisal estates will contribute additional profits of nearly 52.6% to the current mainstream sisal business.

Also a small hydropower plant exists at Ngombezi Sisal Estate. It is a run-of-river diversion type drawing water from the Pangani Riv

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