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Renewable-based Rural Electrification in Kenya and the East African Region Final draft


AFREPREN/FWD Secretariat


The report was sponsored and supported by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD). The report is divided into eight chapters; chapter one provides the introduction and objectives of the study. The main aim of this study is to evaluate rural electrification using national and local experiences in East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya) with different approaches to policies, technological solutions, financing and business models for expanding electricity access through up-scaling and renewable energy. The chapter concludes with the study methodology, approach, research framework and the rationale for selecting the Kenya country case study.

Chapter two describes the demographic and socioeconomic framework of East Africa. The study establishes that East Africa contains about 119 million people with a total gross domestic product of approximately USD 75 billion; in the resent past high population growth has been experienced mostly in urban areas. The income levels of the region are characterized by high poverty levels with over 65% of the population living below $2 per day. In all East African countries agriculture is the dominant income activity in rural areas; it is noted to be a significant income earner. In Kenya, the sector contributes approximately 24% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for about 44% of exports. In addition agriculture accounts for about 90% of rural incomes and provides about 60.4 % of the employment.

Chapter three discusses the energy services in the rural areas of East Africa. The energy sector in the East African region is characterized by four key factors: over-reliance on animate or human power in the dominant agricultural sector for production; unsustainable and inefficient use of traditional biomass energy especially in the rural households; low penetration levels of renewable energy technologies and a heavy dependence on imported petroleum which meets the demand of the modern economy.

Chapter four reviews the renewable energy technologies options available for rural electrification in East Africa. The technologies include: cogeneration, small hydro, solar PV systems, wind, small scale geothermal plants and improved cookstoves.

Chapter five highlight on the major rural electrification programs in East Africa. The chapter presents both rural electrification and national electrification programs and their role in increasing levels of electrification. Key players supporting rural electrification initiatives have also been provided as well as the expected impact by the initiatives.

Chapter six builds on the previous chapter, expounding further on rural electrification in Kenya. The chapter establishes that the Kenya Rural Electrification Programme (REP) was initially managed by the Government of Kenya with its management delegated to the country’s main utility, Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), now Kenya Power. Very limited progress in rural electrification was realized when KPLC was in charge of rural electrification, connecting about 133,000 customers in 34 years as at 2007 when REA took over. The chapter sums up with an analysis of various models used by the rural electrification program to connect rural customers.

Chapter seven summarizes the lessons learned based on Kenya’s experience and the other East African countries. The chapter provides ways in which renewable energy use can be expanded in the rural electrification programs in the region.

The eighth and last chapter ends with a digest of key recommendations and a way forward. The recommendations include; prioritizing productive applications of renewable-based electrification and strengthening the autonomy of rural electrification bodies among other recommendations.

This paper is available on an exchange basis. If you find it to be useful, we encourage you to send us any relevant publications from your organization. To request for the full paper, please fill in the publications request form

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