Solar energy improves people’s access to electricity in Kenya
In order to reach its objectives of developing its electricity generation from renewable resources, the Kenyan Energy Ministry has established in 2008 a Feed-in-Tariff policy, subsidising renewables-based electricity production.
Exponential growth and ambitious solar PV projects
Even if the main source of energy in Kenya is currently hydraulic, especially thanks to the Gitaru and Kiambere hydroelectric power plants, the Kenyan government makes a point to increase the share of solar energy production. Therefore, this mean of production is the one which had the highest rate of growth since the late 2000’s. Furthermore, a significant number of large on-grid solar PV projects are already underway (reaching several MW each). But listing big numbers and colossal projects is not sufficient to describe this transition to renewable energy.
Huge impact on the society
This transition to solar energy impacts directly the daily lives of Kenyans. One of the most significant advantages of PV energy is supplying energy to isolated towns and villages, through the creation of mini-grids in the most remote areas. Decentralization of energy offers an access to electricity for the greatest number of people. This solution results in the decrease of infrastructure costs, and consequently the price of electricity for rural population. On the other hand, the tasks of installation and maintenance are often entrusted to the local population. They receive an appropriate training and a remuneration for this activity, they acquire a certain degree of independence and implication.
However, despite these encouraging signs, a majority of the Kenyan population still does not have access to electricity. Many Start-Ups, based in Kenya or abroad, offer several devices (computers, lighting systems, overhead projectors, etc.) designed specifically to work with a solar system. This has a very positive effect on the health and education systems.
Even if the share of photovoltaic is quite low among the Kenyan energy mix, its takeoff is promising for the coming years. Many local companies are developing different projects and models, and the Kenyan government encourages foreign companies to invest in both on- and off-grid solar power plants in Kenya. It’s not a coincidence that one of the biggest PV exhibitions in the world, Solar Energy East Africa, will take place in Nairobi in March 2016.
Kenya Renewable Energy Association (KEREA)
La Revue de l’Afrique (French)