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According to Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, the Garissa Solar Plant is in the final stages and will be ready for commissioning by September as opposed to the original date of December.

“We are ahead of schedule and by September it will be on the grid and will then push the cost of power down to 5.4 cents per unit,” said Keter.

The government official told the Sunday Nation that “This is the biggest project in the East African region. It is a break from over-reliance on hydroelectric and geothermal power. Our focus now is on green energy and there can never be any better choice than this.”

The plant is projected to generate power capable of lighting around 625,000 homes.

It is reported that the construction of the solar plant came as a result of an initiative by the national government to encourage private investors to put money in solar energy in line with the policy on wind, biomass, small hydro, geothermal, biogas and solar passed by the government in 2010.

Construction of the plant is being executed by the China Jiangxi International Kenya Ltd engineers.

“The response from private investors was low especially for large scale solar projects who felt the tariffs were insufficient for projects to be viable since they indicated that they do not cover full operational cost, low indexing at 12% which does not match increase on cost incurred, land acquisition, taxation among others,” said Keter.

Mini-grid powering Garissa

Media cited data from the ministry, which indicates that for some a while Garissa was powered by a mini-grid, but was recently connected to the national grid power.

The government revealed that there are plans to extend transmission lines to other areas, including Garissa-Wajir and Garissa-Garsen.

“Other than boosting the national grid, there are other immediate benefits like offering employment opportunities to the locals and generally the country,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

REA chairman Simon Gicharu said upon completion the solar plant will boost the manufacturing sector.

“Clean energy will drive sustainable economic growth and lift the masses out of poverty,” stated Gicharu.