Rural Electrification efforts progressing well
Construction of a 55 MW solar power plant in Garissa County at a cost of Shs.12.8 billion was set to start soon, Rural Electrification Authority (REA) Chairman, Dr. Simon Gicharu has said.
“All the bottlenecks to the Garissa solar plant, the biggest in East and Central Africa, are over and next week, we are set to approve the designs and it will take one year to complete,” he said.
The Chairman also revealed that 98 per cent of public primary schools were connected to electricity to support the digital learning programme.
Dr. Gicharu said the Authority was accelerating the pace of electrification in the country to enable the government achieve its goal of universal access to energy before the year 2030.
He reiterated the Authority’s commitment to realising the government’s vision of increasing access to electricity for rural communities to promote sustainable socio-economic growth.
He said the rural electrification programme has the potential to transform lives of the rural people which had been marginalized for a long time.
“Access to electricity will increase economic activities and help fight poverty in rural areas,” he said, noting that the energy sector had the potential to become the driving force behind economic development in the counties.
During an interview in Mombasa on Monday, Dr. Gicharu said that they were working hard to ensure that all rural and remote parts were provided with electricity by 2030.
He said REA was allocated Shs.7 billion in the 2017-2018 financial year adding that the bulk of the budget would be used in scaling-up the supply of renewable energy in rural areas.
Dr. Gicharu said the Authority was committed to availing electricity to communities in off-grid areas across the country as this empowers them economically.
“We are committing Shs. 2.5 billion out of the Shs.7 billion on solar power and diesel generators to light up villages in remote areas,” he said.
“The purpose of rural electrification is basically to alleviate poverty by ensuring that all Kenyans have access to electricity,” he added.
He asked the beneficiaries to use electricity for income generating activities to improve their living standards and contribute towards national development.
He said REA was creating awareness on how to use electricity in rural areas and urged people to make use of the electricity that has been brought closer to them to improve their levels of income through setting up of small-scale enterprises.
“Remember we are connecting power to communities who never got the opportunity to use electricity in the rural and far flung areas of this country since independence,” he said.
He said solar power remained a sustainable option for lighting up rural and remote areas of the country.
By Hussein Abdullahi