alexa Sh12bn solar project given green light - Daily Nation

Sh12bn solar project given green light

Thursday March 31 2016

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa  (right)

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa (right) addresses a press conference in Nairobi on June 12, 2015 on China- Kenya relations. He revealed that the Chinese government is set to construct a 50-megawatt solar plant in Garissa following an agreement with the Kenyan government. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The Rural Electrification Authority has approved a Sh12.8 billion, 55-megawatt solar power plant in Garissa County.

Established through a concessional funding from the Chinese Government, the project is expected to start this July and take a year to be completed.

The project, which could be the largest solar power station in Africa once completed, will power close to 625,000 homes.

The plant will be situated 20km from Garissa town.

The Chinese Government last year had announced that it would construct the plant following an agreement with the Kenyan Government.

Speaking on Wednesday in Nairobi, the electrification authority Chairman Simon Gicharu said the money would be used to set up some 210,210 solar panels spread over 85 hectares of flat desert in the northern part of the country.

“We already have the full funding signed for. All we need to do is hit the ground running,” said Dr Gicharu.

He made the announcement after chairing a board meeting that unanimously approved the commencement of the construction.


“We have identified a huge area of flat desert that gets 14 hours of sunlight every day, which is ideal for a large commercial project of this nature,” he said.

He added: “The plant is connected to the grid, therefore, some of the power generated will also be consumed in Nairobi.”

Dr Gicharu said the project would also help the country create employment opportunities as it is projected that it will offer at least 1,000 jobs.

“We are setting up a mini-city in the middle of a desert with over 1,000 workers, meaning we are opening up that place,” he said.

At the same time, the authority Chief Executive Officer Ng’ang’a Munyu said the project will see mini-grids set up for small towns and also have the contractor offer training to the locals who will man the plant.

“Our strategy is to ensure that the country has electricity and we know that renewable energy, especially solar power, is the way to go,” said Mr Munyu.

Having completed the rural electrification of primary schools across the country at a cost of Sh30 billion, Mr Munyu said, the authority now intends to sustain the power in the schools, which will ensure their smooth running.

“We want to ensure off-grid areas and households that are far from the grid also have access to electricity,” he added.

The authority intends to put up about 100 mini-grids in the off-grid areas during the 2016/2017 financial year.