Kenya has an exciting opportunity to be a leader in harvesting sustainable and efficient energy. First of all, the country is naturally endowed with plentiful sunshine that can be converted into solar energy; this has been shown to be particularly beneficial for rural households and, increasingly, flower and vegetable farms according to Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP). By 2030, the Kenyan government hopes to install an additional 300,000 domestic solar systems (RECP).
Secondly, the Rift Valley provides the country with relatively low-cost geothermal sources of energy, thus having been identified as an important aspect of Kenya’s Least Cost Power Development Plan (RECP). Lastly, 25% of Kenya has been estimated to be suitable for wind power, which can provide off-grid community electricity and assist with water pumping.
According to World Bank’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) database, cultivating renewable energy sources is crucial to a country in which only 56% of the total population has access to electricity. Rural areas of Kenya are especially affected, with only 39% connectivity compared to 77% in urban areas. However, as the country is also at risk of the acute effects of climate change, it is important to make sure that the expansion of electricity be done in a sustainable way.
From 26th-27thJuly, 2018, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers will be hosting the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition 2018 at the Safari Park Hotel. The objective of the event is to catalyze sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency growth in Kenya.
In addition to more traditional forms of renewable energy, the conference will feature panels on such topics as transforming municipal solid waste (garbage) into energy. Given the worldwide trend of urbanization, waste management is increasingly becoming an issue, as well as the fact that, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is estimated that plastics will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. Consequently, the ability to convert waste into electricity could render it a precious resource.
Other notable panels will include sustainable building practices and clean cooking methods. Rapid urbanization, as previously discussed, is making sustainable building practices an increasingly pressing need both in Kenya and in Africa in general. Clean cooking is also an important issue in the region, given that traditional methods of burning heavily-polluting fuels like charcoal, kerosene, wood, and animal dung for cooking are dangerous not only for the environment but also for human health.
Finally, one of the biggest obstacles in launching a clean tech project or enterprise is lack of financing due to perceived risks. The conference will provide key lender concerns and successful project finance structures. This panel thus fits in perfectly with KCIC’s mission to provide incubation, capacity building services, and financing to Kenyan entrepreneurs and new ventures that are developing innovative solutions in energy, water and agribusiness to address climate change challenges.
By Alise Brillault