China-Kenya solar facility
The training centre will teach Kenyans to assemble solar lighting systems for supply to local businesses and schools

In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Chinese and Kenyan investors have launched a technology transfer and training centre to promote the assembly of solar power lighting systems to meet the growing demand for green energy technology in the East African country.

The China-Kenya Solid State Lighting Technology Transfer Centre, based in an industrial park near Nairobi, is set to spur the growth of a home-grown solar industry in the country, reported Taiwan-based news portal Want China Times.

“Our partnership with a Chinese firm will facilitate the establishment of a local assembly plant for solar products. The new centre will expose Kenyan technicians to the latest solar solutions,” said Maina Maringa, director at Sunyale Africa, which launched the centre in partnership with a Beijing-based company.

Supply of solar lighting systems

Both Chinese and Kenyan investors have stakes in Sunyale Africa, which supplies solar lighting systems to households, schools, hospitals and business premises.

Dang Song, CEO of Sunyale Africa, said the nascent solar industry in Kenya has potential for growth given its foreign direct investments and a skilled workforce.

“We import solar products and assemble them in a factory outside Nairobi. Our partnership with Kenyan investors has made it possible to train local technicians on assembling solar lighting systems,” Dang said, adding that the centre will enable Kenya to realise green aspirations in line with its vision 2030 blueprint.

Dang continued: “There is a huge market for solar solutions in rural areas and urban slums. The new centre will help meet this demand through assembling of state-of-the-art solar lighting systems for households and institutions.”

East African renewable sector

Chinese investors are optimistic about the growth of the renewable energy sector in Kenya due to the enabling policy and regulatory environment, said Dang.

He said: “Our goal is to fill the renewable energy gap in the country through the supply of cheap but durable solar solutions. Government incentives that include waiver on import duties for solar panels has made this possible.”

According to Dang, the demand for large scale solar lighting systems among small factories has spiked recently in Kenya, and Sunyale Africa has adopted the social entrepreneurship model to promote access to solar energy among the rural and urban poor.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl has been working in the African power, energy and water sectors since 2011, first with African Utility Week and now as the Editor of ESI Africa. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Global and African Power & Energy Elites publications. With her passion for sustainable business and placing African countries on the international stage, Nicolette takes a keen interest in current affairs and technology trends.

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