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The East African : Oct 24th 2015
30 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK OCTOBER 24-30,2015 D E VE LO PME N T Spate of new investments in EA’s solar energy A shift of focus to clean ≥enewable sou≥ces is c≥eating oppo≥tunities in the ≥egion By SCOLA KAMAU Special Correspondent Kawangware, a low-income estate west of Nairobi, Jane Mmbone charges her solar panel using the sun’s rays. The panel is connected to a bat- E tery which transmits energy to light bulbs via one of four ports. Two ports on the other side of the battery help in charging the panel and gadgets such as phones and torches. Thanks to the system, Mmbone has discarded kerosene as an energy source for lighting, saving her about $15 a month. This is significant for a woman who makes just about Ksh7,000 ($67.8) per month. Many low income earners in Kenya like Mmbone cannot afford the cost electricity which requires a one-off payment of Ksh15,000 ($145.3) for a connection to the national grid plus monthly payments based on usage. The situation is the same for other low income earners across East Africa, making the region a lucrative market for investments in alternative sources of power. Regional and international firms as well as governments are shifting focus to clean, renewable energy. Jesse Moore, M-Kopa Solar found- er and managing director for example, estimates that the market for solar energy in the three countries is 20 million people. So far, the company has con- nected more than 250,000 homes in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, with the hope of reaching one million customers by 2018. Two weeks ago, Solar Green Renewable Energy of London and very day, at her stall where she makes and sells French fries in Questworks, a consultancy firm in Kenya signed an agreement to develop small scale solar panel electricity systems — photovoltaics (PV) — of an average 5MW. The systems can light up houses and buildings and charge electronic appliances. “Since May 2011, Solar Green has been analysing the market trends for renewable energy and other projects in Kenya. Signature projects are in the pipeline in Western and Rift Valley,” said Solar Green officials in an e-mail. Questworks on the other hand constructed the largest solar PV roof project in Africa at Strathmore University Nairobi at a cost of $1.3 million last year, supplying 75 per cent of the school’s energy needs. Last month, American energy company SkyPower also announced that it would double the $2.2 billio in K powe In Globa tabli solar kind Nairobi resident Jane Mmbone, a beneficiary of the MKopa Solar system. It consists of a solar panel, two bulbs, a torch and a radio. Picture: Geoffrey Angote is made up of 28,360 PV panels on a 20-hectare (50 acres) piece of land. The field is now supplying 6 per cent of Rwanda’s power needs, and will be harnessing the sun’s light for 25 years according to the power purchase agreement. Gigawatt Global also plans to establish a 7.5 MW plant in Burundi. In Uganda, solar energy projects generating 20MW of electricity are in the offing. A consortium of Access Power MEA, of the United Arab TSK Electo invest another ian firms Spa and Telecom est $15.5 ate plant. r Africa Energy e has and new ng total$2.2 milEntrepre-s in Tan, RwanUganda, h i o p i a , na, KenNigeria, Zambia among e benefiaries. “The sup- port will attract more entrepreneurs into the solar business and the cost will drastically come down as governments promote more partnerships and trade between grid and off grid connections,” said Einstine Kihanda, chief investment officer at ICEA Asset Management.. This implies that institutions pro- ducing solar power can sell redundant power during sunny days and buy electricity from the grid during rainy days. Shift to clean energy Companies are also shifting from electricity to clean energy. Safaricom, a Kenyan telecommu- nication firm is using renewable energy on its sites. “We have deployed solar or wind energy solutions in 77 Sites over the year, 79 sites fitted with Power cubes (efficient hybrid energy systems), 127 sites with free cooling units. Low voltage auto phase selectors and deep cycle batteries are other initiatives, “said Stephen Chege, Safaricom’s director of corporate affairs. Across Africa, the demand for electricity is projected to triple by 2030, offering huge potential for renewable energy sources. The power sector requires invest- ments of $70 billion per year on average between now and 2030. This can be split into about $45 billion per year for generation capacity and A woman from arid northern Kenya places a solar panel on the roof top of her Manyatta. Picture: File HIGH DEMAND In East Africa, a big portion of the population is locked out of the national grid, making it a potential big market for renewable energy as demand for power in Europe declines. ACCESS: A World Bank report notes that only 23 per cent of Kenyans, 10.8 per cent of Rwandans and 14.8 per cent of Tanzanians have access to an electricity supply. In Uganda, only 17 per cent have access to electricity according to the Ministry for Energy and Mineral Development. $25 billion for transmission and distribution. “Renewable energy sources could account for two-thirds of the total investments in generation capacity, or up to $32 billion per year,” according to a new report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “Realising this opportunity will create significant business activity in Africa.” A World Bank report notes that only 23 per cent of Kenyans, 10.8 per cent of Rwandans and 14.8 per cent of Tanzanians have access to an electricity supply. In Uganda, only 17 per cent have access to electricity according to the Ministry for Energy and Mineral Development. With such populations locked out of the national grid, IRENA director-general Adnan Z Amin said investors see the continent as the next big market for renewable energy, even as demand for power in Europe declines. “We really believe the business case for renewable energy is here. It’s a question of aligning policy frameworks, de-risking financing, having markets that bring investors, and it is doable,” said Mr Amin. Uganda to get $121m f≥om AfDB to boost powe≥ access in ≥u≥al a≥eas By KENNEDY SENELWA Special Correspondent THE AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) has approved $121 million loan and grant for Uganda to increase access to electricity in rural areas. The multilateral institution allocated $100 million loan and mobilised a $21 million grant from the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) window of the European Union-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF) for the project. AfDB said the money is expected to facili- tate economic growth, improve livelihoods and allow access to social services in rural areas as public institutions get connected to the national grid. Only 14 per cent of Ugandans nationwide and 7 per cent in rural areas have access to reliable energy source. Limited access to electricity and high energy costs hold backeconomic development, entrenching inequality. Uganda’s government is implementing the 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan (RESP-2) with the hope of increasing the electricity access in rural areas to 26 per cent by 2022. AfDB’s director of energy, environment and climate change Alex Rugamba said the institution is supporting the development of energy infrastructure to address con- 14pc straints hindering economic transformation. “This project, financed in partnership with Of Ugandans nationwide and 7 per cent in rural areas have access to a reliable energy source. the EU, will advance implementation of a government-led, sector-wide approach and ongoing harmonisation process in energy sector to drive economic development and improve the livelihoods of rural Ugandans,” he said. The AfDB-financed Uganda Rural Electricity Access Project will build about 1,147 kilometres of medium voltage power lines and 808km of low voltage distribution networks. It will provide last-mile connections to the grid for over 58,206 rural households, 5,320 rural business centres and 1,474 rural public institutions including schools, health centres with administration offices. The project will support scaling-up of “in- clusive and green” connections by supplying and installing ready-boards for people who cannot afford household wiring and allow connection charges to be paid in instalments. AfDB expects the initiative to intensify connections for more than 99,000 new customers near the existing grid in electrified rural and urban areas. Uganda’s Vision 2040 development blue- print calls for an 80 per cent electrification rate by 2040 and the five-year National Development Plan targets 30 per cent overall access by 2019/20.
Oct 17th 2015
Oct 31st 2015