Kenya capitalises on renewable energy to extend energy access and business development

As one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent, Kenya has been dubbed the powerhouse of the African continent. According to its Vision 2030, the country strives for an ambitious economic transformation and aims to join the ranks of newly industrialized middle-income countries rank within the next 15 years. Meanwhile Kenya is set to double its population to 81 million people by 2050. This enormous change will entail increased energy use and emissions, which Kenya has set to address with a transition towards a low carbon development pathway.

As a party to the UNFCCC process, Kenya has already pledged to tackle climate change by reducing emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared with its BAU scenario. While the government has made deliberate efforts to move towards a clean energy mix, small scale businesses and households in rural areas still depend heavily on biomass (wood fuel and charcoal) as a primary energy source for cooking. Kerosene and other carbon intensive energy sources remain the principal source of lighting. Biomass accounts for almost 90 per cent of energy use in rural Kenya.

Kenya has developed a number of policies and strategies to move towards climate resilient, low-carbon development, including a National Climate Change Response Strategy, National Climate Change Action Plan, a National Adaptation Plan and a National Climate Change Framework Policy. Recently, the design of a number of mitigation action plans or NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) seek to devise plans for operationalizing these goals in various sectors.

With the development of a Clean Energy NAMA, the country now focuses specifically on promoting local production and access to clean energy appliances in rural communities, while promoting businesses in the clean energy sector. The increase of access to affordable lighting, cooking and energy is to raise living standards, improve health and education opportunities, and increase productive income-generating activities.

The NAMA foresees the production and distribution of 1 million units of solar PV-based lanterns and Improved Cook Stoves using an innovative market-based approach to incentivize private sector participation. It will thereby seize the opportunity to spur a new market for clean energy technologies, which will not only drive production of local clean energy appliances but also private sector growth and job creation.

This goal will be supported by the establishment of twenty-eight energy productivity zones (EPZ) across the country. The EPZ will provide infrastructure and support services for the private sector, to incentivize investment in the manufacturing and distribution of clean energy technologies on a for-profit basis. These zones will be self-sufficient in their electricity requirements thanks to a solar power plant with a total capacity of 500 Kilowatts.

A comprehensive set of awareness and training to strengthen local capacities will bring about sustained sector transformation within Kenya. Once implemented, the Clean Energy NAMA will contribute towards Kenya’s emission reduction targets and national development goals.

For more information, please contact Mr. Harun Warui, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya, at harunwarui@gmail.com.