Daily Nation Opinion

Kenya will soon be a leading solar panel market.


By MEGAN ANYANGO

Kenya has been striving to become a leader in the field of alternative energy. A significant milestone was reached this month, when the country overtook India as the world’s largest market for solar panels. The growth in consumer interest in alternative green sources of energy has long been encouraged by government.

Earlier this year, we saw the unveiling of an ambitious plan to connect 250,000 households to electricity and at least 1,000 public institutions through solar energy.

Between 2016 and 2018, the government improved access to energy to at least 14 million households with the help of solar energy solutions.

SOLAR ENERGY

The Kenya National Electrification Strategy, launched in 2018, stressed that solar energy has to help power many off the grid households. The financing for the plan was secured with the help of a Sh15 billion World Bank grant as well as private sector financing from a concessional loan arrangement facilitated by the government.

The government has encouraged the use of solar energy in the country.

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 An important step that has been taken to create a supportive environment through tax exemptions and the slashing of Value Added Tax on solar panels and related equipment.

The government has also created a legal and regulatory framework favourable for the execution of alternative energy projects, made generous financing available on preferential terms as well as offering extensive funding for related research.

Such measures have been the primary enablers of Kenya becoming the world’s largest solar panel market.

Aside from encouraging the alternative energy private sector, the government has significantly contributed to the transition of our country towards more sustainable and cleaner sources of energy.

With more than 300 days of sunlight a year, our country is an ideal place for solar-based initiatives. Late last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated one of the largest solar energy firms in East and Central Africa.

AMAZING PROJECT

This project produces 50 million watts to power the homes of half of the entire households in Garissa County. This amazing project joins the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, the largest wind project in Africa.

 The benefits for the environment from the transition to green energy are clear. However, beyond improving the air which we breathe, solar power reduces the cost of electricity to consumers and reduces our dependence on often unreliable traditional sources of electricity.

Uninterrupted supplies of power are of course central to economic expansion, drawing businesses to set up shop in regions of our country they previously would have never considered. Furthermore, the solar industry and associated fields directly contribute to the employment of over 25,000 people annually, more than double the amount of workers employed by Kenya Power.

STABLE ENERGY SUPPLY

President Kenyatta and Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter have made the country’s transition to clean energy a priority. The President also plans to expand the geographical distribution of such projects across the country.

As the president stated at the Garissa plant’s opening last year, “I see that the gap that existed is being reduced. We are developing our country uniformly from Moyale to Namanga, from Mombasa to Lake Victoria”.

Solar energy is not the first alternative energy field in which our country has been a leader. Hydropower for example, accounts for 49 per cent of the capacity of our country’s power grid.

However, our notorious dry seasons and the impact which these have on the generation of sufficient and reliable amounts of energy have shown us why we must diversify these sources. Harvesting the unlimited power of the sun, will allow us to ensure stable energy supply throughout the year for generations to come.

Ms Anyango is a social commentator. [email protected]



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