Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Off-grid
lighting distributors in Kenya have received grants that will
enable them to expand their services to hundreds of Kenyans who
cannot access clean energy.
distributors received a total grant of 1.05 million U. S.
dollars from the World Bank in an effort to increase access to
reliable and affordable off-grid lighting (OGL) solutions in
qualified for the grant after winning a competition, which
sought to deliver financial support to eligible distributors of
modern off-grid lighting products in Kenya, last June. The
winners were announced last month.
that will benefit most from clean, sustainable energy
solutions are those with least access to these products, as
they have to pay high up-front capital costs,” said Belinda
Mills, Energy SME (ESME) programme manager during the event in
selected companies are Hensolex, One Degree Solar, Renewable
Energy Ventures, Smart Solar Kenya, Solataa Ltd, Sollatek
Electronics Ltd, SunnyMoney Kenya and Mibawa Suppliers.
June last year, the competition was funded by the Russian
Federation through the World Bank, and operated under the ESME
aims to support small energy businesses development in
sub-Saharan Africa to foster local private entrepreneurship and
invest in the provision of energy services in remote, un-served
or under-served regions.
that the OGL grants will fill gaps in offering clean energy in
Kenya by providing working capital to distributors, who in turn
will sell products at low prices, whilst still being able to
will thus immediately benefit from cheaper, cleaner light
sources whereas the distributor will be assured of short and
medium term cash flow,” Mills explained.
mainly use solar energy for lighting and mobile phone charging.
They thus reduce the overreliance on electricity and kerosene
the World Bank, there is real need for high quality lighting
products to be more readily available in the Kenyan market to
reduce the burden of unclean energy.
Annual sales of
OGL products in Kenya have grown tremendously as people seek
clean energy. The sales are expected to rise due to increased
usage of mobile phones and limited connection to electricity.
quality of available off-grid products and the development of
easy payment options such as pay-as-you-go models are
contributing to their increased popularity.
Global Village Energy Partnerships (GVEP), off- grid lighting
and other clean, renewable energy initiatives are threatened by
inadequate funding and investment options.
banks’ limited knowledge on the industry’s prospects and
perceived high risks coupled with weak balance sheets and
credit history among the SMEs are a stumbling block to fast
uptake of the technology.
are also grappling with how to increase production to match
demand, while importers tie up considerable funds due to
bureaucracies in the manufacturing process,” she noted.
backdrop, the OGL product distributors were asked to submit
proposals for grants.
were required to have targets for product sales; a viable
business plan including sustainability after the grant is
completed; key measurable milestones; an environmental
sustainability plan; a detailed budget, and procurement plan.
evaluation committee consisting of professionals drawn from
diverse fields with a bias towards renewable energy, rural
business and finance assessed the proposals and picked the
government, through the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum,
participated in the project.
achieving business scale and commercial viability, we are
confident that this programme will succeed in bringing about
strong impact and the reduction of dirty lighting for majority
of Kenyans,” said Caesar Mwangi, Regional Director Africa,
GVEP, which provided business advisory services to the