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Kenya: Thousands to benefit from solar project

TagsEnergy Access, Renewable Energy, Rural Electrification

Some 250,000 households in 14 counties are set to benefit from a solar electrification programme.

This is after the government partnered with the World Bank to fund the Sh15 billion project.

In the announcement made by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the opening of the sixth Global Off-Grid Solar Forum 2020 in Nairobi yesterday, 800 public facilities will also be connected to solar power as the government strives to increase power connectivity in the country.

The President said the government hopes to make 1.9 million solar-based connections through the Kenya National Electrification Strategy, a programme that was launched in 2018.

"To that end, the government, in partnership with the World Bank, has committed Sh15 billion to improve and re-access the 14 counties with low electrification rates," President Kenyatta said. People importing solar products will also enjoy tax exemptions and incentives in order to make them affordable.

The President said the government's policy to accommodate increased green energy production had seen more than two million solar products imported into the country in 2019 alone, and 6.2 million products since 2009.

"Since 2013, we have tripled the number of people with access to electricity from 2.2 million to 7.2 million," President Kenyatta said. This came as Kenya was praised for leading the world in electrification as it hosted delegates from more than 60 countries to address issues around off-grid solar energy.

600 million Africans

World Bank country director, Carlos Felipe, said the global institution would support the government realise its ambition of connecting all Kenyans to power.

The World Bank hopes to reach out to more than 800 million people without access to electricity worldwide, 600 million of whom are in Africa.

But the statements came even as questions were raised on the large number of poor quality solar products flooding the market, especially from China, with the government being accused of failing to block them from being sold to unsuspecting Kenyans.

World Bank's Lighting Africa programme manager, Itotia Njagi, said by virtue of having a 72 per cent market share in the energy sector on the continent, Chinese companies must be engaged on issues to do with quality of the products they manufacture.