Dorcas Seneta and her sister Ann Saning’o are having less trouble with their teachers at Eroret Primary School.
For several years now, the sisters have had to fetch loads of firewood to light up their hut after supper to do their home work. But the flickering light of the fire is not good enough, forcing them to abandon their work and wait for daybreakto finish the work.
But since the beginning of the term, they are now able to finish their homework at night since home in Magadi, Kajiado West Constituency, is now powered by solar energy.
“We used to go to bed at 8 pm but now we can do our homework and study till 10 pm,” says Saning’o.
Across Saningo’s home, Ms Ninayai Muteluai, a mother, climbs up to the roof of her mud house to place a solar panel. It is early in the morning and by the end of the day, she is assured of bright light at night.
Ms Muteluai and fellow women have adopted a new way of charging their solar panels. On their way to the market, they place the panels on the loads carried by their donkeys.
The panels are conspicuous on top of the mud houses in Magadi and it is a matter of time before each home boasts of one.
Ms Mutualei is excited that the time she spends fetching firewood has been drastically reduced. “I used to spend the whole day fetching firewood for cooking and lighting. Now, I only take a few hours and I have more time to go to the market to sell my merchandise,” she says.
Area Chief Philip Nkaka says local women spend most of their time fetching firewood for cooking and lighting.
“We are now seeing more women trading in the markets as they no longer have to worry about firewood,” he said.
This is just the beginning of an ambitious renewable energy programme in Kajiado and Makueni counties being undertaken by Green Energy Africa in partnership with the Swedish Embassy, UK Aid and Act!
In both counties, about 1,000 women and youth have been taken through training on the creation of renewable energy, with another 500 being trained on entrepreneurial skills, according to Green Energy Africa Chief Executive Edwin Kinyatti.
“Renewable energy enhances security and is reliable. The departure from fossil fuel is also our way of mitigating the adverse effects of climate change,” he said.
To further boost the availability, several solar shops were last week opened in Magadi with women and youth running them.
Sarah Disel, the head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy, said with Kenya’s plan to produce 5,000 MW of energy, the renewable energy concept could not have come at a better time.