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Off-Grid Energy Has Key Role in Kenya’s New Electrification Strategy

Off-Grid energy’s tremendous impacts – and potential for more – have been recognized in the newly launched (December 2018) Kenya National Electrification Strategy (KNES). KNES lays out a strategy for achieving universal electricity access for all Kenyans by 2022, which includes grid extension as well as off-grid solutions.

The strategy, which was prepared with support from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), identifies least-cost options for electrifying homes, businesses, and public facilities. The decision how best to electrify each region is determined with the help of geospatial technology, which provides an overview of population density in relation to the existing grid — thereby identifying areas in which off-grid energy is the best option.

Off-grid solutions are already playing a powerful role in Kenya — as captured in an upcoming Multi-Tier Framework Energy Access Survey Report — which points to Kenya as having the highest electricity access rate in East Africa at 75%, achieved through the use of both on-grid and off-grid sources.

Now, the government is looking to expand universal access to all parts of Kenya. As the Hon. Charles Keter, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Energy said, “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.”

The KNES highlights the crucial role the private sector will continue to play in providing off-grid solutions to remote parts of the country. Their role also underpins the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project for Underserved Counties (KOSAP), in which the World Bank with support from Lighting Global is supporting government efforts to provide electricity to 1.3 million people in Kenya’s North and Northeastern counties through private-sector delivery of solar off-grid products.

Kenya has long been the global leader in adoption of off-grid solar technology. From the time Lighting Africa’s first pilot kicked-off in Kenya in 2009 to today, the achievements have been remarkable. In 2009 consumer awareness was extremely low, solar lanterns represented cutting-edge technology, and usage of these products was at only 2%. In contrast, nearly 10 million Kenyans are now meeting their basic electricity needs with quality-verified products that can do much more than task lighting. This remarkable impact has now been captured in electrification measurements and future energy access goals in KNES – paving the way for increased provision of these clean, low-cost solutions and their power to transform lives.