Rural Areas Investing in Renewable
May 27, 2008 -- Business Daily/All Africa Global
The United Nations International Development Organisation
(Unido) is calling on communities without access
to electricity to submit renewable energy production
proposals for funding.
The organisation has set aside Sh310 million
($5 million ) for lighting up 100 villages in rural
Kenya. The money is part of the body's renewable
energy programme which aims to provide 1,000 villages
in the country with power derived from solar, hydro,
biomass and geothermal sources.
It is hoped that the free projects will help reduce
the number of rural Kenyans still relying on non
renewable energy resources like charcoal.
The Assistant Minister of Industrialisation, Mr
Charles Keter, says only 10 per cent of Kenya's
rural population has access to electricity.
"This is a serious impediment to development
yet we are endowed with wind solar, hydro, biomass
and geothermal energy resources," he said.
Already, eight community power centres have been
created in Central, Eastern and Western provinces. "The
potential for generating electricity in Kenya with
water resources is around 3,000 megawatts, three
times the installed capacity," said Mr Alexander
Varghese of Unido.
The community energy centres have combined both
hydro and solar energy sources, making them hybrid
centres with zero carbon emission.
"We also have a vegetable oil, power generation
facility on demonstration which we are promoting
in power generation centres where non edible oils
like Jatropha are available," he said.
The energy produced from is combined at an energy
centre where the community can use the power in
businesses and cottage industries. However, power
distribution to homes has been slowed down by logistical
and financial constraints.
The increased power generation by the rural projects
is also expected to bring down the high cost of
energy, which reduces Kenya's competitiveness in
COMESA and other international markets..