Sh15b solar project to light up 14 counties

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) samples some of the solar products showcased during the sixth Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Exhibition in Nairobi yesterday. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government in partnership with the World Bank will invest Sh15 billion in a project to improve energy access in 14 counties, the president has said.

Speaking yesterday in Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project seeks to provide energy to 250,000 households and more than 800 public facilities.

The initiative is part of the government’s target of attaining an additional 1.9 million solar-based connections through the Kenya National Electrification Strategy launched in 2018. 

“To achieve our electrification programme through off-grid solutions, my administration recognises the importance of partnering with the private sector,” Uhuru said.

The president at the same time oversaw the opening of the sixth Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo in Nairobi.

The biennial forum, which is organised by the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry and the World Bank’s Lighting Global Programme, seeks to accelerate the development of the global off-grid solar market as part of efforts towards the achievement of universal energy access target by 2030.

Uhuru assured of the government’s focus on providing an enabling environment for private sector investors to thrive in the provision of off-grid solar products and services.

“We have given import duty exemptions on a range of solar products to ensure both profitability for investors as well as affordability and high quality products on the part of consumers,” the president said.

He noted that his administration was supporting numerous home-grown innovative solutions and products such as Pay-as-You-Use models and locally manufactured solar solutions fashioned to meet the needs of farmers and rural communities.

Uhuru said the government recognises the importance of affordable and reliable power supply in the achievement of the country’s Big Four Agenda.“Evidence abounds that to realise sustained social economic development, provision of sufficient and clean electricity is a critical enabler,” he said.

He also noted that Kenya has been recognised as the world’s second largest stand-alone solar market after India.

“We have achieved this feat on the basis of 6.2 million verified sales of solar products since 2009 and 14 million people accessing improved energy through off-grid solar solutions between the years 2016 and 2018,” Uhuru said.

He averred that since he assumed office in 2013, the number of Kenyans with access to electricity has more than tripled from 2.2 million in 2013 to 7.2 million currently.

Other speakers at the forum that attracted over 1,000 delegates drawn from 65 countries included Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter and World Bank Country Director Carlos Felipe.

Mr Felipe lauded Kenya for becoming a renewable energy leader and the fastest electrifying country in the world.

Innovative technologies

“The off-grid solar sector’s contribution has been absolutely formidable towards this achievement and Kenyan government’s collaboration with the private sector has been exemplary in delivering innovative technologies and business models that serve everyone,” Felipe said.

He added that he was pleased the Kenya government’s efforts to boost access to electricity have included those living in the most remote parts of the country.

Felipe disclosed that the World Bank was working with other governments across Africa to replicate the success of the Kenyan experience.

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