The new year, 2017, has begun in earnest for the cleantech scene in Kenya, as M-KOPA, a local Kenyan clean energy company has been named among other contenders as an innovative outfit in the Global Cleantech 100. The company leverages mobile money penetration in providing solar energy to bottom-of-the-pyramid off-grid rural populations in Kenya and the region.
Kenya Arid and Semi Arid lands comprise of 70 percent of total country land although they host only about 20 percent of population. These arid and semi arid areas are affected with massive food shortage, water shortage and drought, with up to 5 million people affected every year. Only 5 percent have access to electricity through the national grid. While irrigation could help, diesel and petrol powered pumps are not economically feasible. Solar power pumps, which have been proved to be cost effective in such areas due to low maintenance and operation cost can help.
Globally, there are currently 1.5 billion people who have no access to the main grid. Currently, Kenya stands at 83% on mobile penetration, but only 20% of these statistics have their households connected to the main grid. The question then becomes how possible to power these mobile gadgets? Jiko Power is trying to address this problem. ‘Jiko’ in Swahili means a cookstove, while ‘Power’ essentially connotes the electrical power derived from the heat generated from the firewood that is used in the stove.
In Kenya’s semi arid regions grappling with climate change, rural communities are turning their attention to growing the drought tolerant melia volkensii (mukau) tree. This fast maturing hardwood tree dubbed the mahogany of the dry lands, has many uses, and its timber is lucrative and in demand. A hectare of mature melia volkensii trees, can earn a farmer over Kshs3 million (USD $30,000) and harvesting can begin at 10 years in ideal weather conditions.
There are over 500 million smallholder farmers globally, farming plots of land less than 2 ha in area. Many are struggling to make a living from farming and are looking for ways to increase productivity. Research shows that small farm productivity can be doubled by irrigation. However, many smallholder farmers struggle to irrigate their land. The solution: a sustainable method of irrigation which decouples volumes of irrigation water from volumes of gasoline or diesel fuel consumed - the SF1 solar pump from Futurepump.
A farmer in Kenya is reaping massive benefits from solar-enhanced dairy-farming. In order to boost production, Willy Kirwa, a dairy farmer located in Eldoret (Western region of Kenya in the Rift Valley) invested $40,000 USD in a modern state-of-the art solar power system on his 50-acre farm to help in lighting and processing of milk.
Over 75 per cent of Kenya’s population, with the majority concentrated in the rural areas, rely on agriculture not just for food but as a source of income. Small holder farmers, who form the bulk of the food producers have been grappling with a myriad of challenges, key among them pests and diseases. But in the wake of these isues that have threatened food production and ultimately fanning the hunger cycle, Kenya is counting on a model that is giving farmers more personalized attention to tame these diseases - dubbed 'plant clinics',
Africa will need bold measures in order to avert a looming health and environmental crisis - which is the result of air pollution according to a recent OECD report. The report also shows that outdoor and indoor pollution in Africa are causing more death and carry more estimated costs than unsafe water and sanitation and childhood malnutrition. The report says that most of this pollution comes from energy generation, open fires in household operations and imported used equipment.
In late 2004, Kisumu bay, Lake Victoria, was covered in a blue-green hue. The algal bloom - a proliferation of cyanobacteria – demarcated an area of low oxygen and eventually decomposing algae, causing fish to suffocate or flee and contaminating the drinking water- a dead zone. Adapt-N, a software programme developed by researchers at Cornell University seeks to solve this problem.
Wind power in Kenya contributes only a small amount of the country's electrical power. However, its share in energy production is increasing. Kenya aims to generate 2,036 MW of wind power, or 9% of the country's total capacity, by 2030. With the project expected to match approximately 18% of the current national grid electricity-generation capacity, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project shall become a renewable energy gem in the East African continuum.