By Daily News Reporter in Serengeti
TANZANIA has become the first country in East African region to embrace an electronic vehicle to operate within its national parks in its efforts to reduce emission.
The Arusha based Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC), over the weekend rolled out the first 100 per cent electric safari vehicle (e-car) in Serengeti National Park, becoming the pioneer tour company to introduce the environmental friendly vehicles in the EA region.
The MKSC Managing Director, Mr Dennis Lebouteux, says e-car is a carbon monoxide free technology, reliable and comfortable vehicle solely depending on solar panels to reel its engine.
“The e-car reduces maintenance costs, it doesn’t use fuel as it is 100 per cent ecological charging, thanks to solar panels,” Mr Lebouteux told the audience during the vehicle inauguration in Serengeti, winning the hearts and minds of conservationists.
He added: “The silent and environmental friendly e-safari vehicles can approach wildlife without disturbing them”. At first, Mr Lebouteux was not completely convinced that the technology could work in Africa, as is the case with Europe where there is ready-made infrastructures.
“But I told myself, I could try because we have a lot of solar power that can charge the vehicles. We tried with the first two cars in June and after four months of operation there has neither been a single breakdown nor service,” he explained.
“I’m satisfied, the vehicles have offered fantastic service for the guests. We are going to bring more five e-vehicles for safaris in the near future to make them seven,” Mr Lebouteux noted, adding: “The good news about e-cars is that they are silent, no smoke, no noise and the clients appreciate to use them for game driving.”
Serengeti National Park Chief Warden William Mwakilema said he has received the e-cars wholeheartedly, as he believes they would help reduce a degree of pollution. Whereas high season between 300 and 400 tourist vehicles enter the Serengeti National Park every day, during the low season the flagship park handles between 80 and 100 cars each day.
“This technology shows us how our future activities will cut down management costs, including fuel and maintenance of vehicles. This clean technology will help us in our conservation and tourism activities,” Mwakilema explained.
For his part, the Chief Conservator for Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Dr Fred Manongi, underscored the need for the country to embrace the e-vehicles for the benefits of conservation drive.
“As a country, we’ve to think of adopting the technology because the vehicle does neither emit smoke nor noise. Pollution has been completely controlled. In our conservation activities we do not like smoke and noise,” Dr Manongi said.
One thing was very clear that the technology needs investment in easy power generation methods. With two or three solar plants in a park and e-vehicles, they can make it. It is understood, England and Germany, for instance, are determined to phase out fossil fuel vehicles come 2025.
“We’ll reduce running cost for a great deal if we do the same, we spend colossal amount of money on fossil fuel vehicles. But an e-car also has a long life span; it does not wear out easily” he stressed.
This technology is the future of Tanzania as a country, Dr Manongi said, imploring the government to consider starting using it gradually to reduce cost and save the environment. Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambulo, commended the project, saying the e-cars are good, as are economic.
“The only challenge is the cost because the technology is still new, but when others enter the market, the cost will go down,” Mr Chambulo explained.
“Taking into account that prices of fuel are increasing, the e-vehicles are ideal, because they will save foreign currency used for importing oil. I believe the tourism sector will receive the technology wholeheartedly,” he said.
The French Embassy representative, Mr Philippe Galli, said his country was keen on supporting French companies, especially in fighting against bad effects of climate change by protecting nature.
“This project is directly linked to saving energy. I am proud of the French company partnering with German experts to implement this project,” noted Mr Galli who is the head of Economic Department at the French Embassy in Tanzania.
He further underlined that Tanzania is serious about protecting wildlife reserves and that the vehicles will not do harm to nature or disturb animals. “As the head of Economic Department from the French Embassy, I will convince other companies from France and Europe to emulate this excellent initiative,” Mr Galli noted.