MIGORI (Xinhua) --
Amid an ever rising cost of paraffin in Kenya,
adoption of solar lamps for night fishing is rapidly becoming a
cheaper source of power for fishermen at the expansive Lake
Victoria in Western Kenya.
A liter of kerosene cost an
average of 0.55 dollars in March, 2015 against the average 0.7
dollars in early 2017 thus increasing the cost of input for the
fishermen who spend 12 hours in the waters searching for a
However, solar lamps are providing a better option for the
fishermen and to some extent cutting their expenditure on fuel.
"Solar lamps are such a cost relief to us," said Okoth
Odhiambo,who has been fishing for the past three decades at
Migori County’s Muhuru Bay waters, part of the larger Lake
Victoria shared among Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the three out
of the six nations forming the East African Community.
"It is very cheap recharging the solar lamps than refueling
it with kerosene.
"We would spend two dollars on paraffin for one lamp and we
use four so that adds up to eight dollars.
"But we now use a total of two dollars because we are charged
only 0.5 dollars for each lamp," he explained.
Odhiambo said the 18 fishermen stationed at the Muhuru Bay
have for the last two years embraced solar lamps which he said
are also safe.
"There is no fear of burning should the lamp fall or
contaminating the fish with paraffin or even polluting the lake
with the lamp oil," he said.
Fishermen are crucial to Kenya’s aquaculture sector directly
influencing the nation’s total economic performance.
More than 129,000 Kenyans draw their livelihood from fishing
and fish farming activities, according to the UN Food and
Agricultural Organization (FAO).
In 2013, the sector contributed 0.54 percent to the country’s
GDP with Lake Victoria making up 90 percent of the total fishery
and aquaculture production in the same year.
Experts view access to solar energy as a means of increasing
income for the fishermen and improving their lives.
The high cost of kerosene eats into the profits of fishermen
leaving them in a cycle of poverty, said Professor Herick
Othieno, an expert in solar energy and who has done studies
looking into the economic value of using paraffin among the
fishing communities in the Lake Victoria ecosystem.
"Fishermen make so little money because the cost of input is
actually too high, "said Professor Othieno.
"Kerosene is one of the inputs the fishermen have to cater
for since they need the lamps to fish at night. And it is too
expensive," he added
He said the fishermen have been enslaved in poverty as they
are left with nothing to invest since they make little profits.
He said solar power is a more affordable, clean and safe
alternative whose use among the fishing communities can greatly
transform their lives.
The solar expert said use of solar lamps also lowers
pollution of the lake as a result of reduced spillage from the
Professor Othieno said fishing was crucial to the lakeside
communities thus the need to increase their access to solar
energy which enhances their economic activities and in the
long-term lifting them out of the cycle of poverty.
While the fishermen such as Odhiambo would continue to need
solar energy in their future fishing activities due to its cost
effectiveness, more investments are needed to expand their
capacity as its generation is currently very minimal.
Currently, solar energy contribute less than one percent of
the total electricity produced and consumed in Kenya, according
to the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Five dead and several
injured as boat capsizes in Lake Victoria
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Five people are reported to have died while
several others sustained injuries when a boat capsized on
Thursday night in Lake Victoria.
Kenyan media reported that seventeen people were aboard the
ill-fated boat that capsized while en route to Musoma in
Tanzania after it was hit by heavy storms.
According to Fredrick Kagari, an administrator in western
Kenya, the loaded boat swerved and later capsized as heavy
storms swept across Africa’s largest fresh water lake.
"We can confirm we lost five fishermen when the boat capsized
in Lake Victoria.
"Three bodies have already been recovered and the search for
the rest is ongoing," said Kagari.
He revealed that both Kenyan and Ugandan fishermen were
traveling in the ill fated boat when it capsized.
Kagari added that an elite team of divers has been dispatched
to search for missing fishermen.
Boat accidents have escalated in Lake Victoria waters despite
enhanced patrols by security forces and regular training of
drivers and crew on safety.
Overloading, natural storms and faulty engines are to blame
for boat accidents that have claimed many lives in Lake
At the same time, water hyacinth that has carpeted a huge
swathe of the shared fresh water body has also complicated
movement of fishing boats and large commercial vessels.