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Kenyan Electrification Plan Could Achieve Universal Access By 2022

Approximately 75% of Kenyans have access to electricity from grid and off-grid sources, according to the World Bank, but the Kenyan government wants to increase that to 100% by 2022. The Kenya National Electrification Strategy references mini-grids, independent solar power plants, and off-grid technology as options to utilize. About 49 million people live in Kenya, and most of them are in rural areas.

“Tremendous achievement in scaling up connectivity has been made over the last few years. Total access to electricity now stands at 75%. However, there was a need to come up with a new National Electrification Strategy to deal with the challenges of bringing the entire country under electrification in an economically viable manner,” stated Hon. Charles Keter, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Energy.

Universal access is part of the country’s development roadmap to turn it into a middle-income country. Electrification can help move the country forward to bring about greater manufacturing, food security, affordable housing, and universal healthcare. Geospatial technology will be used to help generate objective data for electrification planning.

The World Bank press release states that over the next 5 years, there may be $14.8 billion in Kenyan energy investment opportunities. Kenya has plenty of renewable energy potential — geothermal alone could be 10 gigawatts. One source states the wind power potential is at least 1 GW, and that large scale hydro-electric’s potential there is 1,500 megawatts. Installed solar power currently is at about 2 MW, according to one source, but the country could readily get to 150 to 250 MW.

USAID pegs Kenya’s installed electricity capacity at 2,351 MW and mentions the Power Africa 2030 pipeline has over 3,200 MW.

Many Kenyans still use kerosene in lamps for indoor lighting, but doing so results in harmful and sometimes deadly fires. Burning kerosene also generates toxic indoor air pollution. The development of clean, renewable energy is generally regarded as environmentally beneficial, because it is, but it can also improve human health by reducing or even eliminating toxic emissions in the air we breathe.

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