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Potential of renewable energy in Marsabit, Kenya


The Global renewable energy agenda in line with the Sustainable Development goal 7 (SDG 7) is a necessary component in driving Africa’s transition to increasing access to the Energy poor. Marsabit county is riddled with inexhaustible renewable energy resources such as solar that can be harnessed to facilitate the increasing energy demands within the region whilst providing sustainable solutions to the energy crisis. Investment within the renewable energy space is highly welcome by the Government of Kenya, with the introduction of reduced tax incentives of solar products, locally available talent and the drive towards vision 2030 which encompasses the need to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030.

 

Marsabit county is the largest county in Kenya and its largest town Moyale  boasts of a population of 459, 785 Kenyans whose pastoral productive systems form the main livelihood in Marsabit county. The major sources of income within this livelihood includes sale of livestock and livestock products. Droughts, floods , high temperatures and erratic rainfall challenge the productivity and incomes amongst the population. Strategies adopted by farmers to respond to climate related hazards  include water harvestings and conservation. However, the rate of adoption of these strategies remains low due to the scattered population and the lack of grid connectivity. The construction of solar plants in this region would further increase the adoption of these strategies while providing opportunities for industrialization within the leather tanning industries, meat processing and cold storage for dairy farmers, thereby increasing the income of the population and opening up Moyale town to industrialization. Greater investment in processing and value addition infrastructure can be achieved through developing the much-needed solar plants to increase the benefits across the industrial value chains including livestock ,fish, fruits and irrigation of vegetables and staple crops. 

Attracting the right kind of investment to develop the solar plants is a key priority for the Kenyan government and through the Ministry of energy, the following economic benefits are envisaged to greatly influence these sectors since such projects are implemented to facilitate the same:

·      Economic relevance of agriculture 

Agriculture is the main economic activity in Marsabit County. It involves crop production, livestock keeping, bee keeping, fishing and agroforestry. Agricultural production in the county is predominantly livestock based. A big percent of the population is engaged in pastoralism, agro-pastoralism, and other livelihoods. Crop production is limited to a few areas given the low and erratic rainfall in most parts of the county. The development of solar plants in the region will see the growth of these activities by a big margin. The applications which include solar pumps for  irrigation and cold storage.

·      Tourism

Access to affordable and reliable energy through development of solar plants will exploit the tourism potential of Moyale town and Marsabit county as a whole. The well-known sites like Lake Turkana, Sibiloi National Park, Marsabit National Park and Marsabit Game will benefit largely from the reduced power tariffs 

·      Renewables against COVID -19 and other healthcare challenges 

The global pandemic has seen the need for reliable and affordable energy access to cater to the sick as well as protect the front-line workers. Moyale town has  one referral hospital which currently depends heavily on diesel generators. The development of a renewable energy solution will increase the immunization capacity of the county, the energy demands for machinery which require reliable power and improve the general service delivery of the hospital.

·      Economic relevance of Industries

Moyale county has the potential to accommodate the largest leather tanning and meat processing industries in the entire east African region. The growth of such industries is dependent highly on reliable and affordable energy needs. Solar being an inexhaustible resource in the county can be harnessed to cater to the industrialization of the value chain and create more jobs in the county.

·      Climate change related risks and vulnerabilities.

·      Sustainable transportation and educing CO2 emissions.

The benefits of increasing access to affordable and reliable energy access to Marsabit county and Moyale town in particular has the potential to open up a world of opportunities for the population both inside and outside Africa. It is due to this potential, that the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Energy is implementing the following policies to further attract the right kind of investment in developing solar plants within Marsabit county and join in the shared prosperity of the population.

·      Under the VAT Act 2013 and VAT (Amendment) Act 2014, Kenya offers an exemption from value added tax (VAT) and import duties for supplies imported or bought for the construction of a power-generating plant or for geothermal exploration, as well as certain plant and machinery

·      Energy Act 12 of 2006, enacted by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. The Energy Act set up an independent regulator for the sector, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), whose role included the approval of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and the preparation of national energy plans. The Act puts the responsibility for developing renewable energy frameworks in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. As is the case in many countries, there is special emphasis on the expansion of local manufacturing and incentives to existing renewable sources such as bio- digesters, solar, and hydro turbines.

·      Feed-in-Tariffs (FITs) offer long term contracts to renewable energy producers to supply energy to the grid at a pre-determined rate, based on the average cost of generation of each technology (different technologies can be paid different amounts per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity provided). Kenya’s first FIT policy was enacted in 2008 by the Ministry of Energy. The policy required system operators to connect plants generating renewable energy and guaranteed priority purchase of their electricity. Grid operators are allowed to recover some of the cost from the FIT directly from consumers, up to 2.6 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh). The policy set tariffs that are technology and capacity-specific and expected to apply for 15 years. Investors’ Expressions of Interest will be evaluated by a panel with representatives from the Ministry of Energy, grid operator and regulator.

Image by :All Africa

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