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Kenya to Install 23 Solar Mini-Grids to Power Remote North

energy2The Kenya government, with the support of a 33-million-euro credit from the French government, plans to install 23 solar mini-grid power stations with the capacity to produce 9.6 MW of power to connecthouseholds in remote northern Kenya to electricity.

Also to be installed as part of the project is a 0.6-MW mini-grid wind power plant, scaling up projected wind powerproduction in the country in the next four years.

Already Lake Turkana Wind Power project, a 320-MW wind project in Africa owned by KP&P Africa B.V, Aldwych International as co-developers, Industrial Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) and Google Plc, is under construction with a projected completion date of 2018.

The latest initiative will see power stations put up across seven arid counties in northern Kenya neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia that have been relying on thermal power in select major trading centers, leaving hundreds of thousands of pastoralist communities without power.

Kenya president President Uhuru Kenyatta and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault witnessed the signing of the credit facility agreement on Aug. 1.

“This project will reduce the average cost of electricity production via mini-grids by an average of 20 percent, contribute to the improvement of energy security of supply of Kenya, support economic development by promoting more reliable electricity service [and reduce] greenhouse gas emissions associated with the combustion of diesel,” Kenyatta said.

The new financing is aligned with the key pillars of France’s cooperation policy in the energy sector aimed at promoting access to electricity for all to support sustainable economic development, and in particular supporting  development of renewable energy to contribute to the fight against climate change, the French foreign minister said.

Kenya’s 50 percent government-owned power distribution company will implement the project, which will be mainly anchored on the 23 solar PV power stations to help over 1 million in the remote region access power.

The French Development Agency, an institution that has so far committed over 800 million euros in loans to Kenya’s power sector since 2000, will handle disbursement of the funds on behalf of the French government.

Since 2013, Kenya has doubled the number of citizens connected to the grid from around 13 million to some 25 million, with more than 22,000 schools connected to electricity in the entire country in a project that will cost the government US $350 million. About 4,000 of those schools are connect through stand-alone solar PV.

Power generation has also risen from 1,765 MW to more than 2,422 MWs, more than a half of it coming from renewable sources.

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