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.
Around the world, arable land or land that is suitable for agriculture is dwindling. The rural-to-urban migration and growing cities of the world have constricted the capacity of the rural populations to provide food, for both urban and rural populations. At the same time, our overall world population is increasing. How do we feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050? In Kenya, a US-based not-for-profit social enterprise called CAN YA LOVE (pronounced as Kenya Love), is working with a consortium of local partners, to erect pillar gardens in urban areas such as slums, community land spaces and in schools.
Another innovation with regard to solar energy category was that of solar roofing tiles presented by Strauss Energy. Strauss is into the business of incorporating solar cells - called Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) into building materials such as tiles. The solar tile is either made of a plastic material or mixture of plastic and ceramic components, with solar cells being overlayed on top. This model seeks to combine both the advantages of house roofing and power generation. The solar cells work in the normal way by converting sun’s energy into power which is then channeled to power devices at home, office or factory.
Right this minute; a woman somewhere in rural sub-Saharan Africa is on a long trek. Not because she’s part of a nomadic tribe or visiting a neighbouring village but because she has to do something that many of us with modern conveniences take for granted – cook for her family. This woman represents the reality of about 3 billion of the world’s population who cook meals over an open fire everyday. People who just need an easier way to get things done. Showcased in the Network’s Solutions Database along with other low-tech projects, the Ezy stove does just that.
Kenya is a first in many a renewable energy innovation. The country houses a number of solar-energy innovations that touch on, among other sectors, agriculture and the retail sector. Agriculture, being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and an employer of 75% or thereabouts of the entire country’s workforce, remains an important sector in the country. The IEA observes that by 2050, solar energy could be the top source of electricity, generating up to 16% of the world's electricity - Kenya is certainly not an exception to these statistics.
Intasave, a not-for-profit and environmental enterprise is planning to use scalable nanogrid solar power systems to bring clean, reliable and affordable power to about 500 communities and 250,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique within three years. After raising the initial US$100,000 through crowdfunding, construction of the hubs is already underway in villages in Kenya.
Smallholder farming is primarily characterized by differentially low incomes, in particular the poor sub-Saharan African farmers. Closely tied to this are the high proportion of farmers income spent on their energy needs, both at the domestic and crop-production level. There is essentially a correlation between income levels and access to clean modern energy. In Kenya, the energy situation could be getting better, with a social enterprise that invests in an end-to-end solution for smallholder farmers, Takamoto Biogas is tackling the fundamental global problems of deforestation and climate change.
As the global population progresses towards 8.5 billion by 2030, the amount of urban solid waste is budding even faster than the rate of urbanization. In Kenya, solid waste is a precursor to several environmental and health challenges, ranging from clogged drainage and sewers, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea, increased upper respiratory diseases from open burning of the garbage, to malaria. Collection and disposal systems are inefficient and are not environmentally-friendly.
From the largest of concentrated solar plants, to the most modest of farms in Kenya, the application of 'sustainable solutions' holds the promise of making the world a better place. John’s business, like so many, is one that is threatened by consequences of climate change. In an effort to secure his way of life, and provide for his family, he turned to innovation: “I had to get involved in smart farming because everything used to dry up,” he says.