When countries exploring the renewable/clean energy sector at its highest are being considered around the world, none of the countries in Africa top the list, at least for now. Asian countries will probably take several of the top positions with projects like the Sarulla geothermal project on Sumatra Island and the floating solar farm at Sakasamaike Pond in Kasai, Japan.
However, this appears to be changing as several countries like South Africa and Kenya are trying to improve this narrative by launching laudable clean energy projects. Fo r instance, Solar Century East Africa has started developing three solar roof systems at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to Business Daily Africa, two solar roof systems and a carport system will be built at the ICIPE Duduville Campus in Nairobi, while the third solar roof system will be built at the ICIPE Thomas Odhiambo Campus, in western Kenya. The project will be complete in October, after which the campuses will be able to receive power from the solar plants. The project will be funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
ICIPE’s Director General, Dr. Segenet Kelemu approved the project. “Through this project, ICIPE’s goal is to create a sustainable energy supply and to reduce diesel fuel dependency by constructing solar photovoltaic power plants at its Duduville Campus headquarters in Kasarani, Nairobi, and at the ICIPE Thomas Odhiambo Campus on the shores of Lake Victoria,” he said.
These are a few facts you should know about the major players involved in this project:
Solar Century: Although the company has an East African office, its headquarters is in the United Kingdom. The firm is tasked with designing the systems and will be the engineering, procurement and construction provider for the project. They are also tasked with the responsibility of operating and maintaining the project for the next five years. This latter part actually reinforces earlier expert opinion that Africa needs to stay away from installing renewable energy equipment until the people gain knowledge in this area, to avoid giving out maintenance contracts to other nationalities.
ICIPE: The institution has always looked for ways to sustain agriculture in Africa, recommending solutions to challenges in the sector. In 2014, the institution launched a world class bee health lab in Kenya. The African Reference Laboratory for Bee Health works to protect Africa’s bees and help farmers produce top-quality honey and wax for international markets. Also, during a conference in March 2016, Dr. Sunday Ekesi recommended consumption of edible insects as one way of fighting food shortage on the continent, citing crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and termites as highly nutritious.
SDC: The Swiss body is committed to providing humanitarian and developmental aid to countries in the horn of Africa which Kenya is a part of. During the February 2016 Annual Conference of the SDC, one of the main issues discussed was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is Affordable and Clean Energy, which is what SDC is trying to achieve by funding the ICIPE project. The conference, which was themed; ‘Together towards a sustainable future – The 2030 Agenda for Switzerland and the world’, addressed how the Switzerland government will attempt to promote the ideals of the SDGs in other parts of the world.