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KEREA Is Adopting The GOGLA Consumer Protection Code (Attached ) As Part Of The Requirement For Working Groups In Solar Technologies And Solutions: Andrew Amadi, Chief Executive Officer, KENYA RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION

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ANDREW AMADI - CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, KENYA RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION

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SolarQuarter Africa magazine had an exclusive conversation with Andrew Amadi – Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Renewable Energy Association and learned about how the KEREA association is promoting and supporting the Solar industry in the region. He also gave us a brief overview of the policy & business environment of Kenya’s Solar Market along with the future outlook for the region.

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Please tell us how your association is promoting and supporting the Solar industry in the region.

The Kenya Renewable Energy Association  (KEREA) is the umbrella body for all renewable energy in Kenya. It was founded by a Technical Committee at the Kenya Bureau of Standards that was developing standards for solar equipment. KEREA has been instrumental in advocacy for a better business environment for the sector to grow and has participated in the development of the Solar PV and Solar Water Heating regulations. KEREA was also instrumental in the Kenya National electrification strategy which included off-grid solar as part of the matrix for measuring access to electricity and as a result, the connectivity in Kenya today stands at 75% with solar systems accounting for 25% of the connections. KEREA is also a founding member of the East African Renewable Energy Federations which brings together the renewable energy associations for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi who are working together to harmonize regulations so as to create a common market with 45 million people still not having access to electricity. In September this year, the Associations jointly launched the report entitled ” STRENGTHENING THE OFF-GRID SOLAR ELECTRIFICATION MARKET THROUGH IMPROVED POLICY AND ADVOCACY IN EAST AFRICA” (see attached). This was also accompanied by the Position Paper and advocacy plan (Attached). KEREA also held the Renewable Energy Day in January 2020 to showcase solar energy and other renewable energy technologies and solutions. KEREA is adopting the GOGLA consumer protection code (attached ) as part of the requirement for working groups in solar technologies and solutions. KEREA will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in February /March 2022 and will unveil a prize for the most efficient and most cost-effective solar panels and inverters in the market as part of the celebrations. KEREA has created three working groups that focus on solar technologies.

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These are:

1. The solar home systems working group

2. The solar commercial and Industrial sector working group

3. The solar water heating working

These three groups are working together to identify policy, legal and regulatory hurdles and advocate for an enabling environment. They are also creating new markets by focusing on the productive use of solar energy for economic growth and improved livelihoods by developing scalable and bankable solutions to grow solar even further. 

KEREA is also part of the Kenya Solar Waste Collective which is developing a common strategy for managing e-waste in Kenya and Rwanda while also be setting up a producer responsibility Organization together with GOGLA and Sofies. The Strategy report has been unveiled at the end of November 2021. 

What do you think about the solar sector in Kenya and East Africa as a whole? In your view what is needed to strengthen the growth of the solar sector in the region?

The sector needs to enable policies to be predictable and insulated from policy shocks. There is a need to weed out poor quality and counterfeit products which are very rampant and contribute to undermining consumer confidence. The region needs serious investment in productive use technologies that run on off-grid solar as the expansion of the electricity grid is expensive and slow and there is an urgency to scale up access to meet the demand of 45 million people without access. There is also a need for further research and development of technological solutions tailored for providing bundled solutions to manufacturing processes.

What according to you is the biggest challenge currently being faced by the developers and how can it be tackled?

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The biggest challenge faced by developers is the lack of funds for early-stage development for start-ups so that they can access funding. Foreign investors do not want to support feasibility studies or even pay for securing intellectual property thereby leaving developers with a huge funding gap. Development partners also have a narrow focus on areas of their own interest that are not always aligned with the interests of local developers or markets. Multilateral financing institutions also have a high threshold for projects and fund only large projects while developers are usually focused on small-ticket items of less than 500,000 USD.

Please give us a brief overview of the policy & business environment of Kenya’s Solar Market.

The policy environment has generally been very favorable and conducive for the solar industry, however, it still remains unpredictable at the implementation level and the tax environment changes very often leaving businesses in a perpetual state of uncertainty and having to spend many working days on policy issues. The business environment in Kenya is very vibrant with sales of solar products being higher than almost all countries in the world, making Kenya the 2nd Largest market for solar products after India. (See GOLGA report for Jun -Jul 2021 ) There are about 1,000 registered solar companies in Kenya and a few that have Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) capabilities. There are 800 registered solar technicians for stand-alone, grid-tied, and utility-tied categories. KEREA has contributed to the development of the Solar EPC guidelines for Africa in partnership with Solar Power EU and has launched an internship database where university students and graduates can have structured access to do course projects and even carry out research that meets the needs of the solar and renewable energy sector.  

What is your outlook for the Solar sector in the region for the next 5 years?

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 I see even more growth in the uptake of solar solutions especially in the last mile connectivity to give access to electricity,  I see Kenya reaching 90-100% connectivity by the end of 2027. I see increased uptake of solar water pumping as the drought intensity increases and water becomes less accessible. I see on-grid rooftop power growing exponentially as people become more aware of the cost of daytime solar and investors take advantage of the 30% annual return on investment while giving consumers up to 50% cost saving on daytime electricity. I see huge uptake for solar electric mobility charging stations, especially in rural areas. I see many new real estate developments with embedded rooftop solar. I see net metering and wheeling of power growing as soon as the regulations are published later this year or early next year. 

Rooftop or Utility-Scale solar Projects: Which sector has more potential and opportunity to grow in the region and why?

The rooftop sector has much more potential to grow than utility-scale projects. The grid currently has a surplus generation capacity with peak demand at 2,000 MW while installed capacity is at close to 3,000 MW. There is already identified the potential of 455 MW for rooftop solar power generation for the largest 5,000 consumers of grid electricity. There is a strong appetite for investment and growing demand as grid electricity continues to grow.

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