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Kenyans’ appetite for clean energy
spike despite access hurdles, survey

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Majority of Kenyans are keen to adopt cleaner sources of energy for cooking and lighting despite access hurdles linked to under-investments, regulatory and policy incoherencies, revealed a survey launched in Nairobi on Monday.

The survey which was commissioned by conservation lobbies indicated that seven out of ten Kenyan households who rely on biomass as primary source of energy were keen to abandon them in place of cleaner sources like natural gas, solar, wind and geothermal.

Environmentalists hailed increased appreciation of renewable energy by ordinary citizens saying it will inject fresh impetus in Kenya’s low carbon development.

“There is no denying that adoption of cleaner energy sources is key to healthy and inclusive economic development in Kenya,” said the Secretary General of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Mithika Mwenda.

PACJA and Christian Aid commissioned the survey to gauge the uptake of clean energy sources in Kenya and whether major political parties had factored them in their manifestos ahead of August 7 polls.

The Nairobi based polling firm, Infotrak conducted the survey which revealed that less than 1 percent of Kenyan households used renewable energy sources exclusively to light their homes and cook.

Conducted in mid January this year, the survey indicated that 67 percent of Kenyan households relied on charcoal and wood for cooking while 53 percent relied on electricity from the national grid to light homes.

Mwenda noted that Kenya has a chance to sustain low carbon development pathways if the government prioritizes regulatory and policy reforms, smart investing and public awareness.

“Since Kenya is a signatory to Paris climate deal, we have no option but to move away from fossil fuels in order to minimize impacts of climate change to habitats and livelihoods,” said Mwenda.

The Infotrak survey indicated that 88 percent of Kenyans were concerned about the impact of climate change to their lives hence the need for the country to accelerate green transition.

At the same time, 64 percent of Kenyans were ready to rise above ethnic and sectarian interests to vote for a political party that included clean energy in its manifesto.

Campaigners stressed that significant adoption of green energy at household level is key to address poverty and indoor pollution that is a leading cause of respiratory complications.

“Investments in renewable sources will not only address energy poverty that hampers Kenya’s development but will also reduce harm to vital ecosystems,” remarked the Country Manager of Christian Aid, John Kitui.

He added that incentives like tax exemption on imported solar panels and wind turbines alongside public awareness will stimulate green energy uptake in Kenya. 

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