An ambitious project by the national government to provide solar energy and cash transfers to over a million Kenyans in 47 counties has kicked off with pilot projects in Kilifi and Garissa counties.
The programme dubbed Mwangaza Mashinani is being funded by the Swedish government and Unicef and its aim is to ensure that most vulnerable people in the country are not left behind as homes are connected to solar power.
The Swedish government has donated Sh100 million to implement a pilot project in Kilifi and Garissa counties, which are the first beneficiaries.
On Monday, the project was launched in Kilifi and is expected to be fully implemented in a year’s time.
Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Anna Jardfelt, who witnessed the launch, said the electricity from the project is meant to reach to the poorest communities.
She spoke in Bamba after touring some of the villages which will benefit from the project. She said the long selection process aimed at ensuring that they reach out to the poorest people.
“We were looking at the number of households in the community, so there were a number of criteria. It took a long time before we could identify these two counties but together with Unicef we managed,’’ she said.
Ms Jardfelt said in the pilot phase, 1,500 households from the two counties are set to benefit.
“We are today launching the project but in one year we will be evaluating to see how it has worked out. If it succeeds we will also reach out to other counties,’’ she said.
She said if the project is successful, the Swedish government will look into how children who go to school can benefit so that they can do their households chores and also to have time to do their homework with solar lighting.
Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi and his Garissa counterpart Abdi Dagane witnessed the launch and later signed an MoU on the project.
Mr Saburi said as a county, they are delighted with the project as the targeted area is a remote one which never expected such kind of development.
“It may not look like a big thing but for the locals, this is a big step forward,” he said.
In Kilifi County, over 30,000 people will benefit from the Mwangaza Mashinani project.