Kenya is constructing 136 solar-powered mini-grids in remote regions that are not adequately supplied by the national electrical grid, the country’s energy minister announced on Monday.
Off-grid solar power, pushed by start-ups, has grown in popularity in Africa in recent years for residences cut off from major power systems.
According to the World Bank, there are over 3,000 solar mini-grids deployed in Sub-Saharan Africa, up from 300 in 2010. According to the bank, another 9,000 are planned, including those to be built in Kenya.
The national electrical system has yet to reach some sections of the country, according to Energy Minister Davis Chirchir, who spoke at a World Bank-sponsored solar energy conference.
The new solar micro grids are part of a $150 million World Bank-funded scheme.
The networks, which are powered by solar panels, employ batteries and backup generators to produce electricity that is independent of the larger national grids.
Despite the fact that Kenya generates a substantial portion of its electricity from renewable sources such as hydropower and geothermal, the country has hundreds of diesel-powered producing units due to years of drought.
According to Chirchir, the government has received funds from development partners to transition the diesel-powered units to more affordable and sustainable sources.
Solar has the potential to link 380 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa to energy by 2030, according to the World Bank.