On the 6th of July 2017 Christian Aid and other like-minded partners including Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) held a national renewable energy summit which was the climax of the Big Shift Campaign that ran from January 2017. The objective of the Big Shift Campaign was to advocate for the adoption of renewable energy through increase in investments in renewable energy and also the creation of an enabling policy and legislative framework. The campaign included an opinion poll which brought out the interests Kenyans have in a government which would prioritize the provision of energy and also brought out the large percentage of the Kenyan population that has no access to energy despite the numerous efforts by the government. The campaign also had a cycling caravan across 10 counties where there were energy Cafes held and policy dialogue on issues centered around renewable energy. Part of the cycling caravan campaign was also profiling best practices in renewable energy where there were various businesses including biomass producers, biogas producers and solar energy businesses, that all show cased the practical alternatives of renewable energy. The Big Shift Campaign was centered around the adoption of clean and renewable energy in Kenya and beyond. The campaign was based on an approach to create awareness for the use of clean and renewable energy and to also bring out the challenges that have hindered the adoption of renewable energy solution.
The Energy Summit was the climax of the campaign and brought together various stakeholders including entrepreneurs, government institutions, the private sector and non-governmental institutions. The main objective of the summit was to assess and discuss the environment under which clean and renewable energy is operating. This was based on the practical experiences that the team that was in the cycling caravan had and the survey that was conducted which brought out challenges hindering the expansion and development of the renewable energy sector. A presentation by the Principal renewable energy officer from the Ministry of Energy brought out the commitment of the government in promoting renewable energy adoption in the country and this was largely based on the fact that energy is one of the important facets in achieving the Vision 2030. Access to energy for all is a government priority and this is evident through initiatives such as the last mile connectivity by the government that is aimed at connecting all households to electricity by the year 2020.
One thing that stands out is the absence of the policies to promote renewable energy especially energy for cooking. In the rural areas the most common source of energy for cooking is firewood and there is a gap that needs to be filled to encourage the rural population to adopt alternative sources of energy for cooking. This is just but one of the issues which comes up in the discussion on the adoption of renewable energy.
From the summit among the issues that the participants wished could be done was the scaling up of investments in clean and renewable energy by both government and non-government institutions. There was also a call for the prioritization of energy for productive use which would spur the use of renewable energy for economic development. There is also need for introduction of incentives to promote the utilization of renewable energy solutions and the enhancement of the policy and legislative framework for renewable energy.
By: Sarah Makena