Solar Solutions to Marginalized People in Kenyan Counties

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Among the agendas of Kenya’s vision 2030, is access to Energy for Sustainable Development. However, the whole country is yet to receive energy coverage, especially the remote parts of the country, that is the North Eastern part of Kenya. Efforts to ensure that the marginalized areas have received electrification has seen a positive outcome. The World Bank has embarked on a plan to fund the Kenya-Off-Grid Solar Access Project.

The $47 million funding under the Kenya-Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) is the project to provide the solar solutions. The project aims to way out 1.1 million marginalized people in 14 counties from poverty through viable solar and clean cooking solutions. The targeted beneficiaries of the project are the following counties; West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, and Narok.

Several companies are committed to ensuring the project succeeds to give the counties real-time solutions to their challenges. Among them are the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), and REREC. The World Bank finances the results-based financing (RBF) project and debt facilities under KOSAP. The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Joseph Njoroge, says, “The country has made great strides in achieving connectivity with access to electricity standing at 75% through both grid and off-grid options. However, access to electricity is too low in the 14 marginalized counties, which represent 72% of the country’s total land area and 20% of the population. the dispersed settlements the marginalized counties make off-grid solutions the only alternative for access to electricity.”

The World Bank financed the project with US$ 150 million, which KOSAP intends to use to overcome the electricity challenge by providing both grid and off-grid options. The project targets 277,000 households ( approximately 1.3 million people from the 14 marginalized counties). However, the dream will be realized through the construction of 151 mini-grids together with putting up of stand-alone solar systems in the target counties. Further, the project aims to replace 380 diesel pumps for drinking water with solar and also facilitate the provision of 150,000 clean cooking stoves in West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, and Isiolo.

Goals of the US$12 million SSP RBF

The project’s plans to encourage the growth of solar companies were possible by setting an example through access to finance. It also plans to motivate established solar operators to seek debt investments for scale-up operations in these counties. The US$30 million SSP Debt Facility will enable the private sector to borrow money for purchasing stock, to sell in KOSAP counties, and as well expand consumer financing to households for the purchase of goods, for example, Pay-As-You-Go technology.

Clean cooking solutions seek to encourage clean cooking stoves in efforts to combat environmental degradation, economic concerns, and health hazards posed by the use of low-efficiency stoves.

Speaking during the launch of the startup Energy, Principal Secretary, Dr. Joseph Njoroge said that the three agencies supposedly implementing the project are the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC). The whole project will be rolled out in 4 components over a 5-year-period. It’s expected to reach remote counties that have been left out by the national grid. This will ensure that they receive energy through off-grid solutions.

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