The Government of Kenya announced an ambitious plan to phase out the use of kerosene for lighting andcooking, and replace it with clean energy products such as solar lighting kits, at the recently concluded Rio+20 conference.
Kenya and Norway signed an energy and climate agreement which will develop a framework policy for renewable energy and energy efficiency that will enable more widespread adoption of solar lighting products and improved cook stoves, displacing kerosene.
Norway additionally signed agreements with the governments of Ethiopia and Liberia to increase access to sustainable energy and reduce green house gas emissions.
A statement posted on the website of Kenyaâ€™s Environment Ministry says the Kerosene-free Kenya project is intended to reduce green house gases and improve the health of Kenyans.
The countryâ€™s Environment Minister Mr Ali Makwere is quoted on the online statement saying Kenya spends more than over USD600 million importing Kerosene annually.
Kerosene is the primary source of lighting energy for 68 percent of Kenyaâ€™s population, most of whom live in rural areas not connected to the national electricity grid, according to the latest census data. Solar energy currently provides less than two percent of Kenyaâ€™s energy needs.
Kenya is one of the countries where the joint IFC-World Bank Lighting Africa program is implemented. As a result of the Lighting Africa program, market for solar lanterns has register tremendous growth, averaging at 75 – 85% per year, in Kenya over the last two years.
There are more than 20 affordable, quality-assured solar lanterns and solar lighting kits ideal for homes and small businesses currently available that the government can tap into in order to quickly improve and increase access to clean energy in rural areas.
These lighting products typically comprise a 1-5W solar panel and at least one versatile light source with a rechargeable battery. Most of these modern off-grid lighting kits entering the African market can also charge mobile phones.