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Solar power project gets Sh15b boost

ENERGY: Lighting up dark rural areas and electrification of more public facilities is set to be accelerated this year following the approval of $150 million (Sh15 billion) financing for Kenya Off-grid Solar Access Project.

The funding by the World Bank will enable the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to establish solar mini grids and boost transformer network across the country. The aim of the project is to enhance electricity access and connectivity in areas with large populations that had not been previously reached due to the 600 metres radius transformer limitation.

Through the transformer maximisation project, REA intends to install 1,000 transformers across the country by the end of the 2017/18 financial year. The programme will involve the installation of at least five extension transformers per constituency in areas with existing high transmission lines.

“The authority will in the New Year continue to strive to meet the target of universal access by the year 2020,”said REA Chairman, Dr Simon Gicharu. He said the mini grids will facilitate increase of solar pumping systems to provide water for drinking and irrigation in 14 underserved counties in Northern and North Eastern Kenya.

Data available indicate at least 60,247 public facilities out the existing 88,570 public facilities across the country have been electrified, among them education institutions — primary and secondary schools and polytechnics — health centres, market centres, community water points, tea and coffee centres and government facilities.