In East Africa, Kenya’s government has set an ambitious target of pursuing universal access to power by 2020, with plans already underway.

Kenyan energy and petroleum ministry cabinet secretary Charles Keter said last week that the government was exploiting locally available energy sources, including off-grid renewables solutions, to achieve this goal.

Speaking at the IRENA hosted International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference (IOREC) in Nairobi, Keter noted the various installed standalone and mini-grid renewable energy systems and those under development throughout the country, eNCA reported.

Driving renewables investment

Keter highlighted that the country is ready for business and welcomes both local and foreign private stakeholders, to invest in the country’s energy sector.

"The conference aims to boost electricity access through the development of off-grid renewables. The conference memo notes that roughly 15% of the world’s population lives without electricity, but off-grid solutions can provide an estimated 60% of the additional generation needed to achieve universal access," eNCA reported.

IRENA director general Adnan Z Amin, said: “Access to electricity is a central building block for socio-economic development. It empowers communities to increase income and productivity, gain access to healthcare and education, enhance water and food security, and improve general well-being."

Present opportunities

With a myriad of technology innovations and technology cost reductions, universal access through off-grid renewables was leaning more towards being a reality than a dream.

“Off-grid renewable energy technologies represent an opportunity for transformative change in the way we approach electrification,” Amin said.

The IOREC is held in association with the Kenyan energy and petroleum ministry and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE).

According to eNCA, ARE held a side event for the private sector to showcase renewable energy projects and products.