by Jeff Kizilah
Millions of Kenyans are set to benefit from a clean solar energy solutions programme roll-out by the Ministry of Energy.
More than two million Kenyans will have access to clean energy solutions in a major government initiative to provide modern energy to traditionally marginalised areas through the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP).
Beneficiaries will be drawn from half a million households in 14 counties namely West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garrisa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Narok.
The Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) is a flagship project of the Ministry of Energy, financed by the World Bank, and jointly implemented by the Ministry of Energy, Kenya Power (KP) and the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC), with funding from the World Bank.
The KOSAP programme targets remote and far-flung areas of the country where there is no way the traditional national electricity grid could reach.
Speaking during induction which brought together Solar system companies in Nairobi PS Dr.Kialangwa noted that, ‘KOSAP is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to not only ensure they access electricity but also adopt clean energy solutions’.
“It is a major step towards the fulfillment of the Constitutional guarantee for all Kenyans to access government services, no matter where they live,” PS Energy Hon. Dr.Gordon Kialangwa said.
The targeted counties were selected based on their classification as marginalised by the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA), which currently has a 23 percent rate of connectivity to electricity, compared to the national average of 70 percent.
He said the marginalised counties cover at least 80 percent of the country’s land mass, with populations sparsely distributed in the vast areas, making the construction of mini-grids and installation of standalone solar systems the most effective strategy to achieve universal access to modern energy.
Under the Projects, 400,000 households will be served with Stand-alone Solar Systems (SSS) while 111,277 households will be served with Clean Cooking Solutions (CCS).
In addition, 450 community facilities such as schools, health facilities and administrative offices and 380 community boreholes will benefit from the flagship project of the Ministry of Energy, financed by the World Bank.
A further 146 solar powered mini-grids will be constructed in the targeted counties to supply about 55,000 households with solar power.
“KOSAP is a catalyst in our quest to ensure Kenyans access electricity that is clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly. We are helping reduce over-reliance on fossil and non-sustainable biomass fuels,” added Eng. Mr. Rodney Sultan,coordinator ,World Bank finananced projects in the Ministry of Energy.
The government has scaled investments in the energy sector, ensuring those not covered by the main grid tap into alternative sources considered clean, healthier, and environmentally friendly.
KOSAP’s model is to provide incentives to solar service providers and sellers of modern cook stoves to set up sales and after sales infrastructure in the targeted counties.
This is in response to the market trends, where though the country has a very robust market for standalone solar, majority of the companies shy away from investing in the vast underserved areas, citing logistical and other operational challenges.
The project has disbursed Sh500 million to 20 private companies that are actively selling solar and clean cooking products.
Out of these, 10 Solar Service Providers (SSPs) have already received a total of Sh300 million to enable them set up sales infrastructure in 14 counties.
In additional to that , the ministry of energy has chosen 16 Solar Service Providers are currently poised to enter into contracts worth Sh450 million with the Ministry under Round Two of the funding.
KOSAP is aimed at providing electricity to parts of the country that are not served by the national grid, critical in achieving the Government of Kenya’s goal of ensuring that every part of the country has access to energy – a critical factor in reducing poverty.