Kenya: how renewables improve the quality of life

Bev­er­ly Abwon­ji, par­tic­i­pant of the COBENEFITS Online Train­ing, Kenya

In this part of our series Co-ben­e­fits Sto­ries, Bev­er­ly Abwon­ji explains how renew­ables improve the qual­i­ty of life for peo­ple in Kenya. For this series, we have asked ener­gy pro­fes­sion­als that have par­tic­i­pat­ed in our train­ings for their thoughts and expe­ri­ences on co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in their country.

Whilst I believe that all the co-ben­e­fits around cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion will increase the chances of renew­able ener­gy projects in Kenya, the most press­ing trans­for­ma­tion will revolve around the social and polit­i­cal aspects. When access to ener­gy and increased food and water secu­ri­ty is ensured, then facil­i­ties that direct­ly serve a com­mu­ni­ty are able to func­tion bet­ter which includes enhanced health and edu­ca­tion in the dif­fer­ent regions.

By installing a mini solar grid in my com­mu­ni­ty in the Rift Val­ley, Subukia, we includ­ed par­tic­i­pa­tion and edu­ca­tion and cre­at­ed an addi­tion­al pow­er sup­ply for sur­round­ing farm­ers who ben­e­fit­ed from an afford­able solu­tion for pump­ing water and pow­er­ing their homes which pre­vi­ous­ly relied on kerosene lamps and fire­wood for light­ing. This alle­vi­ates pover­ty and inequal­i­ties that arise from a lack of ener­gy access and the despon­dence of the ever-increas­ing effects of cli­mate change by cut­ting down trees for bio-fuel use. There are favourable con­di­tions to stim­u­late tech­no­log­i­cal change. Kenya has an emerg­ing econ­o­my with a major youth pop­u­la­tion which is eager to improve their eco­nom­ic sta­tus and advo­cate for a sus­tain­able future. By cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for employ­ment and learn­ing, there is a mas­sive oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase the capac­i­ty of the renew­able ener­gy tran­si­tion in Kenya and achieve self-suf­fi­cien­cy with the grow­ing demands of the coun­try. Kenya’s renew­able ener­gy capac­i­ty is at 60% with the major­i­ty being pro­duced by hydro-pow­er. The poten­tial to com­bine with renew­able tech­nolo­gies in the mobil­i­ty sec­tor, agri­cul­ture sys­tems and oth­er infra­struc­ture will addi­tion­al­ly improve the demo­c­ra­t­ic qual­i­ty of gov­er­nance and eco­nom­ic performance.

Based on insights of the COBENEFITS research group, the Renew­ables Acad­e­my (RENAC) cur­rent­ly con­ducts train­ings in Turkey, Kenya, South Africa and Mex­i­co. Par­tic­i­pants learn about co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, tools to quan­ti­fy and com­mu­ni­cate social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties and poli­cies and instru­ments to mobilise them.