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Tap more into solar energy

Wednesday February 19 2020

EDITORIAL
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Slightly over half of the population connected to electricity with the number of Kenyans accessing electricity at 55 per cent, up from 27 per cent in 2013. This is a big challenge as electricity helps to improve education and boost business and agricultural productivity, creating employment. In the rural areas, access to electricity is at just five per cent for households and 25 per cent for businesses. However, the availability of electricity spawns all manner of little businesses at shopping centres and cottage industries. Beauty salons, barbers' shops, cyber cafes, restaurants, bars, welding and other small businesses that rely on such power to create jobs for youth.

In recognition of the limited hydropower generation, the government has intensified the development of alternative sources of energy. Some good work has gone into geothermal power generation around Naivasha and the Turkana wind farms, which are already injecting reliable, low-cost energy into the national grid.

The latest effort is the solar power generation project unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President has also been involved in the Last Mile Connectivity programme, which has been pivotal in increasing access to electricity in the rural areas. It has been financed by the government and the African Development Bank for Sh13.5 billion. Potential customers pay Sh15,000, which is half of the normal connection fee.

To boost rural energy supply, abundant solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal resources await exploitation. Some 250,000 households in 14 counties are set to benefit from the Sh15 billion solar electrification project, in which the government has partnered with the World Bank, targeting 1.9 million connections.

These programmes must be followed through to enable more Kenyans to light up their homes and power their enterprises.

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