Is Kenya on the right track in its shift to equitable energy access?


Is Kenya on the right track in its shift to equitable energy access?

Wednesday June 08 2022

A woman leads donkeys with loads of firewood sourced from Logman Forest, a Mau Forest block on January 7, 2016. PHOTO | SULEIMANMBATIAH

The recently concluded Sustainable Energy for All (SEForAll) Forum 2022 in Rwanda, included a call to action for citizens, governments, the private sector, and development partners to deliver a just and equitable energy transition as we endeavor to reach universal energy access by 2030 .

Although Kenya has made significant strides towards making affordable clean energy, there are still areas of concern.

Despite 95 percent electricity access in urban areas and 60 percent in rural areas, 90 percent of households still rely on wood, kerosene, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating.

Whereas the continued drive by the Government of Kenya to deliver universal access to electricity is laudable, more effort is required to make access to clean cooking a reality by 2028, and universal access by 2030.

Although Kenya has evolved as a market, there is the added risk that the rural and marginalized populations will be left behind, thereby compromising Kenya’s determination to achieve a full transition to clean energy by 2030.

Access to finance

Commitments were made at the SEForAll Forum to finance various energy access interventions, providing energy access in a just, inclusive, and equitable manner is an urgent priority if energy poverty is to be addressed since its benefits extend to improved health and greater prosperity of the nation .

A just and equitable transition demands the full implementation of the energy commitments as expressed in the various energy plans.

Many Kenyans struggled to meet their daily needs, a situation that has been exacerbated by Covid-19, and increased cost of living attributed to global macroeconomic challenges that have shifted household priorities for the more pressing needs such as food and education.

The high cost of clean energy technologies, attributed to an unpredictable taxation regime and supply chain costs, remains a barrier requiring interventions as well as innovative financial products and incentives suited to SMEs and households in most need.

Accessibility and awareness

Although Kenyans are largely aware of the available technologies, there is still a need for resolute action to educate Kenyans about what is available in the market. This would go a long way towards empowering households to make technology choices that align with their needs and ability to pay.

Innovations, standardization

While investment in research and development is a priority, there is also an urgent need for innovations and the development of context-specific technologies to leapfrog the transition to cleaner and climate-smart technologies.

Kenya already has a wealth of information from researchers in the universities and public institutions, these innovations from research require financial support to achieve standardization and patenting in readiness for commercialization and wider market deployment.

Although the country has taken the lead in rallying for universal access to energy by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050, more is needed to demonstrate capability in implementing the ambitious policies

Full potential

To achieve the full potential of the energy transition with its attendant benefits of low emissions, a climate-resilient development pathway, and prosperity for citizens, stakeholders must dig deeper in their heels and make a concerted effort to address the outstanding concerns.

Only in this way will Kenya truly have earned the well-deserved accolades as a leader in the race towards universal access to energy, in a just and equitable transition.

Ms Toroitich is the Head of Programmes, Renewable Energy and Climate Technologies at the AECF- [email protected]

Ms Githinji is the Policy and Advocacy Manager at the AECF – [email protected]

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