A UK government sponsored research has opposed a planned donation of two million solar kits to poor Kenyans saying it could wipe out businesses in the solar subsector.
UK’s Overseas Development Institute-led study that was sanctioned by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) said the free solar kits deal between the Kenyan government and a Canadian based company, Sky Power, must await consultation between the Kenyan government and solar manufacturers and traders.
The study entitled, ‘Accelerating Access to Electricity in Africa-Kenya Briefing’ which was prepared as part of a background study for the Energy Africa campaign recommended that Kenyans living in areas not yet covered by the national electricity grid be financially assisted to buy solar kits in the market.
“Proposed giveaway of two million solar home kits by Canadian developer, Sky Power as part of a larger solar infrastructure with the government could disrupt the off-grid business, especially solar subsector across Africa leading to disinterest among locals and eventual withdrawal of funding by impact investors,” it said.
SkyPower, the world’s largest developer of utility-scale solar projects signed a landmark Sh220 billion agreement with the Kenya during last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit to develop 1000MW of solar projects. The move saw the company announced a 2 million solar kit donations to select Kenyan homes but is yet to be effected.
The ODI study called on off-grid sector players to engage more with policy makers both at the national and county level to help fast track off grid projects.
It observed that credit facilities were costly in Kenya which made it impossible for about 20 million Kenyans living in marginalized parts of arears to access credit.
Instead, it recommended that the government looks into ways to lure more players into the solar subsector which could lead to greater innovation and a drop in solar kit prices.
“Helping individual enterprises makes accident ‘winners’ and what Kenya needs is assistance to local enterprises especially those involving women and the youth who could be funded by the government to start solar kit production ventures,” it said.
The ODI study comes hot on the heels of an announced by a Dutch venture firm Oikocredit International Renewable Energy to raise funds for purchase of solar kits for sale to Kenyans.