1.3m people to get World Bank-funded solar power

Solar power. FILE PHOTO | NMG

About 1.3 million people in 14 counties will be linked to solar energy under a Sh390 million World Bank facility that targets to light up areas not on the national grid.

The facility has been extended to 14 firms and will fund the sale of 122, 085 solar home systems and 150,000 clean cooking solutions by July next year. The firms will also after-sales services to the households.

The targeted counties are West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Narok.

Kenya has an electricity coverage of 75 percent and has increased the pace of electrification supported by off-grid solutions such as solar to increase the population connected to power.

The money will be disbursed under the Kenya Off-grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) and seeks to spur the private sector to invest in solar solutions and provide clean lighting and cooking solutions in counties that are not linked to the national grid.

“This project, which is modelled to support private sector players to establish viable businesses in the underserved Counties, is an optimal option and a key plank in meeting our electrification goals throughout Kenya, so that no one is left behind,” Energy Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa said.

KOSAP also seeks to construct 157 mini-grids in the 14 counties that will be used to connect about 61,500 households with solar power.

The ministry of Energy says that at least 387 public facilities will also be connected to electricity through the stand-alone solar systems in addition to retrofitting 380 water boreholes with solar-powered water pumps.

The project in the counties is riding on the abundant supply of sunshine boosting the government’s efforts to provide electricity to the homes.

Firms tapped under the project are Barefoot Power Limited, Bboxx Capital Limited, Brenhert Investments Limited, d.light Limited, Econome Limited, Elcom Networks Limited and Equity Bank Limited.

Others are Give Limited, Givewatts Limited, Krystal Solutions Limited, MS M-KOPA Solar Limited, Engie Mobisol Limited, Solar Panda Limited and Solibrium Limited.

The government contracted the firms under a Results-Based Financing (RBF) model that offers incentives for the institutions to meet the set target.

The firms join 20 firms dealing in solar and clean cooking solution providers who have been in operation in the named counties since June 2020. They have sold 96,000 solar home systems, connecting over 400,000 people to electricity.

The counties are considered part of marginalised Kenya and firms need more funding to connect widespread households, prompting the government to roll out the RBF with World Bank.

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