Kenya: Proposed Bill Threatens To Erode Gains in Clean Cooking Sector

  • Kenya’s Finance Bill 2020 proposes an introduction to VAT on items previously exempted under concessions accorded by the Cabinet Secretary.  
  • Particularly, the Bill introduces a VAT of 14% to clean cooking and solar products.
  • The move could see Kenyan households dig deeper into their pockets to pay for clean cooking solutions like Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and improved cookstoves.

The clean cooking sector in Kenya has enjoyed fiscal incentives which have enabled millions of citizens to access clean cooking technologies and fuels. The introduction of VAT at the rate of 14% in proposed Finance Bill threatens to erode numerous gains that have been made toward the achievement of universal energy access by 2022 and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 which aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

A study carried out in 2019 by CCAK (Clean Cooking Association of Kenya), showed that 58% of households still use the open fire method of cooking, 70% of households use biomass (firewood and charcoal) for cooking; while 19% of households use LPG. LPG adoption was at 3% a decade ago, zero-rating has made it more affordable to consumers, with the adoption increasing to 28% in 2020.

The global statistics paint a grim picture – nearly three billion people today do not have access to modern cooking products and services, with 4 million people dying annually due to indoor pollution caused by dirty fuels. According to the World Bank, “Despite three decades of efforts, access to clean cooking fuel and technologies has continued to be an issue with severe health, gender, economic, environmental, and climate impacts.”

To shed light on the issue and to lobby Parliamentarians to reject the proposed amendment, the ACCESS East African node – Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) – convened a webinar that brought together Kenyan stakeholders in the clean cooking sector. These included CSOs, representatives from the private sector, Kenya Ministry of Energy, and the wider public.

During the webinar, ACCESS Coordinator, Jacqueline Kimeu, explained that in Africa, Kenya was a front runner in terms of adoption of renewable energy compared to neighbours such as Tanzania and Uganda, and this was attributed to the current fiscal incentives.  She noted that introducing VAT would not only impact the adoption of clean cooking products but that of solar as well. “The overwhelming majority of off-grid consumers and households who access their energy needs through solar-powered energy solutions come from lower-income, rural communities where VAT exemption on the products has played a critical role in increasing affordability.”

The panelists underscored the implications that would arise out of this amendment including: loss of jobs, the introduction of low-priced counterfeit products from unscrupulous manufacturers, as well as eroding investor confidence in the sector. Not to mention the probability that more Kenyans will resort back to unclean fuels – approximately 70 per cent of households in Kenya still use a type of woodstove as either their primary or secondary fuel, with a greater prevalence of 92 per cent in rural areas.

Update: The Bill is currently being debated and Kenyans are waiting to see what decision the parliamentarians take. The proposed Bill is set to become law by July 1st 2020.

ACCESS is collaborating with Hivos on a project that brings together government and CSOs to share experiences and learnings on how the policy environment is contributing or hampering progress towards achieving Clean Cooking and DRE targets in East, West and South Africa.

To read more on the Ghana workshop, click here.

Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK) Launch Sector Study

Submission by ACCESS member CCAK (Clean Cooking Association of Kenya). You can read more about their work on

Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK) is a private, not for profit, business membership organization that represents the interest of clean cooking stakeholders by advocating for an enabling environment at both national and county level to catalyze the growth of the clean cooking sector and promote adoption of clean cooking technologies, capacity building of the sector and sector coordination.

On 5th November 2019 at the Clean Cooking Forum 2019 held at Radisson Blu Hotel (Nairobi), Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Hon. Charles Keter launched the Kenya Clean Cooking Sector Study Report, the country’s first-ever clean cooking study commissioned by the Ministry of Energy and the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya.

Photo credit: CCAK

The study offers a glimpse of the situation in Kenyan kitchens, providing answers to many questions raised about the clean cooking sector, and meets key data needs outlined in the SEforALL agenda. It provides a powerful baseline for the sector in 2018 showing the status of both household and market elements of cooking. The study show that 92% of the rural populations still rely on solid fuels as their primary fuel source.

This means that there is need to deeply look into the clean cooking sector and visualize a shift to alternatives for all populations, and especially vulnerable populations. Kenya commits to shift to clean cooking through development of efficient cooking solutions thereby projecting an abatement potential of 7.3MtCO2e by 2030 as a means to mitigating climate change. Using clean cooking solutions will support the move by the government to restore Kenya’s forest cover to 10% up from the current 7%.

In this regards, the report will guide the Ministry of Energy in decision making for the clean cooking sector. It will also guide the Inter Ministerial Committee on clean cooking in planning for all related activities. The report should be able to be shared to multi-sectorial and be read by policy makers, researchers and planners across all sectors, and by anyone interested in making a change in the clean cooking sector.\

The Association was registered in 2013 with a mission to facilitate the scaling up of the clean cooking Solutions in the Kenyan markets. CCAK strives to build solidarity amongst relevant stakeholders and create effective partnerships to ensure that the use of clean cookstoves and fuels is the norm in Kenyan households and institutions.

Championing for DRE & Clean Cooking in Ghana

Participants that attended the SDG 7 workshop in Ghana

Amanda Addo is a 54-year-old mother of four living in rural Ghana. To eke out a living she owns a small restaurant that sells indigenous Ghanaian delicacies to residents in her community. She is also one of the many caterers that the government of Ghana has contracted in the school feeding programme. The programme is an initiative by the Ghanaian government to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on education, poverty alleviation and food security by offering food to children from poor households and ensuring that they attend school. Amanda’s restaurant feeds about 420 children per day.

One of the challenges that Amanda faces in the running of her small business is the cost of firewood. A month’s worth of firewood costs 36 USD – a punitive amount for any woman living in the rural area. This coupled with the adverse health effects that come with it. Amanda’s situation is not unique, exposure to smoke from polluting, open fires or inefficient fuels – the primary means of cooking for nearly three billion people in the developing world – causes nearly 4 million premature deaths.

ACCESS Coordination Group member, Ezekiel Chibeze, moderating one of the sessions

It is against this backdrop that ACCESS in collaboration with Hivos held a CSOs engagement workshop in Ghana. The workshop brought together government and CSOs to share experiences and learnings on how the policy environment is contributing or hampering progress towards achieving Clean Cooking and DRE targets in Ghana. The participants interrogated the successes and challenges and what opportunities were presented by the civic space to strengthen their advocacy efforts.

Ghana is one of the success stories in Africa in terms of electrification and clean cooking – 84% of the population enjoys access to electricity. In his opening remarks, Mr. Wisdom Togogbo, the Director of Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum affirmed Ghana’s commitment to double access to clean affordable energy by integrating renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. He emphasized on the government’s plan to increase clean cooking through LPG penetration in the local districts by adopting the gas cylinder recirculation model. It is worth noting that West Africa is currently leading in terms of clean cooking due to the wide adoption of LPG in the region.

He stated that 9 out of the 20 programmes set in Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (Gh-NDCs) as part of commitments towards the Paris Agreement is geared towards the energy sector. This includes adding 10% renewable energy into the country’s energy mix. As at 2015, Ghana produces 42.5 Megawatts of renewable energy and hopes to increase it to over a 1000 Megawatts by 2030 to reduce the country’s dependency on thermal energy as well as make DRE available to off-grid communities. About 220,000 jobs would be created along the value chain of the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) implementation.

Some of the successes in DRE & Clean cooking identified by the participants included the draft national Clean Cooking Strategy that is currently under review, and the Energy Master Plan that presents an entry for CSOs to influence its implementation. This was as a result of advocacy undertaken by Ghanaian CSOs advocating for DRE & Clean Cooking. The participants also affirmed that a lot of trainings targeting women and youth on the benefits and productive uses of clean cooking had taken place. There was also political goodwill from the government with the second lady of Ghana, Samira Bawumia, serving as the ambassador for clean cooking and helping raise awareness on pertinent issues.

Participants during the breakout sessions

One of the biggest challenges identified was the lack of financing – both at the national and local level – to implement the infrastructure needed to support DRE and Clean cooking. At the community level, women like Amanda, have to dig deep into their pocket to invest in clean cookstoves. Thanks to her small business, she managed to save up and invest in six of these cookstoves. For many of her friends who do not have a source income, they have to make-do with firewood. With the new improved cookstoves, Amanda spends about USD 7 on fuel – a fifth of the cost of using firewood.  Amanda’s appeal to the government is to put in place subsidies or financing that allows women to pay for clean cookstoves through flexible payment plans.

On the upside, there are many local artisans producing improved cookstoves.  Participants, however, agreed that there needs to be government regulations on the standards of production and the final product. So what next? To entrench the gains made and address the challenges in DRE & clean cooking in Ghana, the CSOs agreed that :

  1. Building synergy with other platforms that share common goals such as the SDG 7 Ghana platform would strengthen advocacy efforts.
  2. The CSOs also committed to invest in capacity building in areas such as research, governance and advocacy.
  3. CSOs to work with other stakeholders in harmonizing data and also ensure the acquisition of technical skills for data analysis.
  4. CSOs need to understand the existing frameworks and policies as pertains DRE and clean cooking.
  5.  To ensure financial sustainability, CSOs were encouraged to venture into social enterprise business models.

As ACCESS heads to Zambia, some of these learnings will be shared with the CSOs to see how they integrate these learnings in their advocacy agenda, noting that the Southern Africa region is lagging behind in terms of progress to achieve DRE and clean cooking targets.

*The workshop was supported by one of our partners – Hivos. This was the first of a series of forums to be held in Zambia and Senegal.

Highlights of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020)

*This is a submission from a participant who attended the forum – Bob Aston (ALIN, Kenya.)

Over 3,000 delegates, including 60 ministers and other high-level participants, attended the sixth session of the African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020) that was held under the theme; 2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe on February 24-27, 2020.

Participants during one of the sessions.

In the ‘Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action on Sustainable Development’ in Africa that was adopted by 54 African countries, delegates, including ministers from across the continent responsible for all the 17 sustainable development goals that were under the spotlight at the forum, called on all African countries to urgently revisit their frameworks for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063; align their national development plans with the principles of the two agendas and set in motion programmes and projects to deliver.

Members of ‘Major Groups and other stakeholders in Africa’ recommended under SDG7 that national and sub-national governments invest in the transition towards 100% renewable energy, as well as climate-resilient infrastructure, and low emission development in cities and rural areas.

The final declaration also urged members states to take a position on gas energy as a transitional energy source for the continent as they prepare for the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

ACCESS members deliberating during the forum

Lack of disaggregated data and statistics hindering evidence-based monitoring and evaluation, tracking SDGs progress and resource allocation.

Most states lacked disaggregated data and statistics which affected the review methodology of the voluntary national review. There needs to be greater collaboration between national governments and CSOs in developing clear mechanisms for and investing in data generation, including remote sensing and other geospatial sources, big data and various observational networks and infrastructures. This will help to support evidence-based voluntary national reviews and national development frameworks, and in timely collection, dissemination and use of data and information to inform decision making.

Inclusive digital transformation can help meet SDGs and Agenda 2063 objectives.

The UN Capital Development Fund ( UNCDF) and the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) High-Level Policy Dialogue side event which looked at digital infrastructure and services, digital literacy, digital ID, digital financing, showed that inclusive digital transformation can help meet the SDGs and Agenda 2063 objectives.

However, high illiteracy levels in Africa, language barrier, low level of digital literacy and lack of adequate infrastructure which reduces devices interoperability has limited the continent’s digital transformation. An opportunity is available for CSOs particularly those working On SDG7 to advocate for the inclusion of energy in the Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard (IDEC) which has only been piloted in 8 countries and does not include energy among the thematic areas. The IDEC is a strategic performance tool that identifies the key market constraints hindering the development of an inclusive digital economy while helping advance the right priorities with public and private sector stakeholders for each country.

ACCESS members during the event

Need for sustained awareness creation and education on SDG7

Although the ARFSD looked at all the 17 SDGs, the importance of SDG7 as an enabler to most of the SDGs was subsequently missing or not reinforced. There is need for CSOs working on SDG7 to enhance their advocacy to promote decentralized renewable energy and clean cooking technologies.

Here is a view from another member who attended the forum – Thabit Mikidadi from Tanzania Gender and Energy Network (TANGSEN). “Coming from a gender organization in the energy sector, my particular focus was on an engendered perspective of SDG 7. Access to clean energy is still viewed as a separate endeavour and not as a catalyst to the achievement of many other SDGs. Numbers are still given priority, rather than impact – accelerated energy access versus reduction of poverty and opening up of opportunities. Women bear the biggest brunt of the energy deficit and this affects their socio-economic livelihoods thus widening the equality gap. This needs to change.”

*Thanks to the support of Hivos, other ACCESS members who attended the forum included: Maimuna Kabatesi (Hivos), Jacqueline Kimeu (ACCESS), Mamadou Barry ( Action Solidaire International ), Marvin Tumusiime (ENventure), Tendai Moyo, Wellington Madumira (ZERO).

Prioritizing Electrification and Clean Cooking in Kenya: Energy Act 2019

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs.

In summary

  • Kenya’s Energy Act of 2019 has the potential to shift the paradigm only if all of the sector players form partnerships geared towards financing, implementation and proper legislative processes that factor in the needs of the energy-poor.
  • Partnerships should be fostered between CSOs and the government to advance and support inclusive and integrated energy plans at the national and county level.
  • Countrywide survey and a resource assessment of all renewable energy resources will set the stage for extensive exploitation of renewable resources to meet Kenyas’ energy needs and requirements.

In partnership with SEforALL’s People-Centered Accelerator, the ACCESS Coalition held a workshop in November 18-19, 2019 in Nairobi Kenya. The workshop brought together stakeholders involved in the implementation of an inclusive, integrated vision of energy access – spanning grid and off-grid electricity and clean cooking.

Kenya’s SEforALL action agenda outlines how the country will achieve its ambitious goals of universal access to electricity by 2022 and clean cooking fuels and technologies by 2030. ACCESS members, partners and other CSOs have continued to support and work in partnership with governments by providing valuable data, advising on policy formulation and demonstrating solutions to secure last-mile energy solutions including how to overcome investment barriers in inclusive energy service planning and delivery. Despite this collaborative approach, Kenya – as is the case of many other African countries – is not on track to achieve its SEforALL/SDG 7 targets.

Participants mapping Kenyan CSO initiatives at the county level

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs. They interrogated the recently enacted Energy Act of 2019 and its implications on energy provision in Kenya. Specifically looking at how county-level governments in Kenya can be supported to develop their energy plans using an inclusive, Integrated Energy Pathway (IEP) approach, (addressing both grid and off-grid electricity as well as clean cooking) to accelerate the achievement of SEforALL/ SDG7 targets.

Speaking during the event, Jacqueline Kimeu, the ACCESS coordinator noted, “The Energy Act of 2019 consolidated the entire laws relating to energy sector development in Kenya, and provides a framework for the devolution of the provision of energy services to the grassroots level.”

During the intensive two-day sessions the participants probed the existing capacity-building efforts at the national and county level on energy access and integration into cross-sectoral development planning.  Besides outlining the coordination and resources needed, the workshop pointed out potential opportunities within county energy plans and identify areas in which CSOs could collaborate to advance SDG 7. 

Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy, Kenya, making his remarks during the workshop

The government leaders affirmed their commitment to collaborating with the CSOs to advance energy access in Kenya. As noted by Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy in Kenya, the country has the right instruments in place. Partnerships with government and CSOs needs to take place within the provision of the frameworks provided. He reiterated “The law provides for modalities of engagement. Opportunities to engage must be created within this framework. CSOs need to identify these opportunities and keep abreast on what is happening at the national level.”

Reaching the underserved

In Kenya, low-income households, located off the grid, in rural areas, spend more than 20% of their total income on energy. It is paramount that the government invests in affordable energy solutions that reach everyone. Caroline McGregor from SEforALL affirmed this commitment during her presentation, “Achieving SDG7 and ‘leaving no one behind’ solutions must be designed to respond to the needs of the poorest and most marginalized in society –those who would get left behind when business is conducted as usual.” 

The workshop in progress

The Act also empowers county governments to build local renewable energy centers in collaboration with the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) REREC. This creates the platform for technology transfer and technology development assuring counties of energy independence in the long run. Stakeholders were encouraged to work with these energy centres to offer context-specific programs.

The SEforALL People-Centered Accelerator’s Work stream 1 is focused on reaching the hardest to reach; the so-called ‘last mile’. The partner project developed under WS1 for 2019-2020 is “National Strategies”, meaning support for policy development and implementation at the country level, where the access deficits are greatest. ACCESS is the lead implementing partner.

You can download the Energy Act Analysis report here.


*This post is a submission by one of our partners – HIVOS


One of the key barriers to delivering energy solutions for the rural and urban poor is the limited access to finance at local and national levels and insufficient targeted finance flows at the international level. Despite commitments from international development organizations, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and investors, specific options and mechanisms to channel the finance to the right places are missing or yet to be clearly defined.

To revitalize the discussion, Hivos has explored a variety of opportunities to utilize funding sources within and outside the energy sector, and to apply conventional and new instruments to help address the challenge of financing energy access through Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) solutions. This exercise resulted in a unique overview laid down in the discussion paper ‘Financing Decentralized Renewable Energy for the Last Mile: What funding sources and instruments can be applied?’

Enabling energy access by connecting dispersed users to the national grid is expensive and is often prohibitively high for distribution companies in many countries faced with the energy access challenge. The alternative is to increase the deployment of DRE solutions. Research (from IEA) suggests that 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa will be electrified through DRE and that DRE would be the least cost solution for the large majority of unconnected populations.

However, despite the potential for DRE to address energy access, analysis indicates that of the total energy access finance tracked in 2017, only 1.2% was directed towards DRE solutions. There is overarching consensus that this is far too little. Moreover, instruments are lacking to target those communities that need it the most.   

There are some specific challenges faced by international development organizations, DFIs and investors to finance DRE solutions to a greater extent. These include: high transaction costs incurred by DFIs and International development organizations in financing smaller volumes or smaller ticket sizes; mismatched expectations on what are acceptable and realistic returns on investments in energy enterprises that are focused on the ‘last mile’, accompanied by a reliance on pure market-based approaches to address energy poverty; siloed perspectives of national governments and international organizations, preventing a more integrated approach where energy interventions could be financed as part of other development projects; and low risk appetite amongst national banks and local financial institutions to lend to the ‘last mile’, which may also be a consequence of limited understanding among local financiers of DRE financing and risk mitigation mechanisms.

Against this background, the discussion paper describes the energy finance needs of key stakeholders, including energy users, energy providers and enabling environment actors, and the potential instruments and mechanisms to meet these needs. From the supply side, it describes the current sources of finance, the existing gaps and the opportunities to utilize them as well as potential new sources. This includes examples of where they have been used before in the energy delivery value chain- consumer credit, enterprise finance or strengthening the energy ecosystem or enabling environment.  In all the opportunities, soft funding sources particularly grants and subsidies play an important role in bridging the energy access gap. Substantial increases are needed in these sources of public funding to leverage commercial investment and to ensure that those in the ‘last mile’ are reached. The paper ends with a list of recommendations.

For more information contact: Merit Hindriks at

The (full length) discussion paper can be downloaded from:

The shorter briefing paper can be downloaded from:

Author: Text & research: Surabhi Rajagopal

Women in Energy – Rosemary Nakasanga is Changing the Face of Energy Access in Central Uganda

Submitted by Marvin Tumusiime

Rosemary Nakasanga is the founder and director of The Women Support Initiative (TWOSI), based in Lwengo district (central Uganda). Like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda grapples with the challenge of electricity access – 85% of Ugandans lack access to electricity and 98% of the population lacks access to modern facilities for cooking.

Rosemary (second from right) at ENVenture’s boot camp

Rosemary’s career as a social worker began at the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious institute that provides community-based healthcare. One of the programs ran by the institute was building mud stoves and sensitizing community members on the hazards that come with using firewood as a source of fuel. Rosemary enjoyed community outreach so much that she took a step further and set up TWOSI in her hometown of Michunda. In Michunda, 56% of the local population lives without electricity and the main source of energy for lighting is kerosene lamps. “Growing up, we used kerosene as a lighting source and the smoke was a constant menace in our home. It is a cheap alternative, and we were unaware of the dangers that it poses,” recalls Rosemary.

The fumes produced by firewood often takes a toll on the health of the community members – especially women – who are often the primary household energy managers. Now that Rose understands what the community is up against, TWOSI also constructs mud stoves for these elderly women who still use the three-stone method of cooking. She encourages them to use alternative sources of cooking such as fuel briquettes.  Giving these women access to energy, through renewable energy, means preserving their human capital and consequently improving the quality of their lives. Rose contends that spreading awareness on the benefits of energy efficiency is key to promoting behavior change.

Currently, TWOSI is sustained through the sale of quality solar lanterns to community members. “The community knows us for dealing in solar lanterns and they trust in the quality that we provide,” adds Rosemary. Rosemary’s future plan for TWOSI is to scale her energy business and serve more community members with quality solar products. This is in line with the “Light Lwengo” initiative unveiled by the Ugandan government to shift the district from poor to middle-income status by 2030. The extra income will be channeled to TWOSI’s advocacy and counseling efforts for girls and women affected by HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of ENVenture, TWOSI is also part of a group of over 80 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that have formed an exchange platform to share knowledge, best practices, and foster collaboration. Rosemary has also participated in ENVenture’s boot camp which provides a platform for new CBOs to interact with manufacturers of their products and equips them with the necessary skills to run successful energy enterprises.

Rosemary (extreme left) with community members

Rose believes that small changes can make a big difference, “I encourage other CBOs to incorporate energy programs or at the very least environmental interventions. Start by planting trees in your communities and sensitizing people on the benefits that come with it such as combating the effects of climate change.”

ENVenture is a non-governmental organization based in Uganda that empowers rural cooperatives to set up their own clean energy distribution businesses in the last mile by partnering with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs). ENVenture seeks to address is three challenges: One, over 85% of Uganda’s population lacks access to energy, secondly, last-mile distribution for clean energy at the household level remains a challenge, and thirdly there is no support for locally-based enterprises in the last mile. To address these challenges, they have a tailored toolkit that comprises of a clean energy loan, business mentors, capacity building, and mobile technology to the CBOs that they support.

You can read more about their work on

“Leaving no one behind” in the newly enacted Energy Law

This post is by ACCESS member, John Kioli. John is a member of the National Climate Change Council in Kenya and the Chairman of Kenya Climate Change Working Group.

In summary:

  • The Energy Act requires all county governments to carry out feasibility studies and develop renewable energy master plans.
  • Low-income households, located off the grid, in rural areas, spend more than 20% of their total income on energy.
  • The government should invest in affordable 0ff-grid solar power and create an enabling environment for private sector participation.

In March this year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, signed the Energy Act. The Act provides for an established fund by counties that will prioritize energy access. Each county is required to develop and submit a county energy plan to be submitted to the Cabinet Secretary in respect of its energy requirements. The counties are also mandated to carry out feasibility studies for renewable energy aimed at providing relevant information for optimal exploitation of resources and to aid in the development of renewable energy master plans.

High cost of energy

The cost of energy in Kenya causes a substantial economic burden to low-income households, particularly the poor in rural areas with households spending more than 20% of their total household income on energy uses. The majority of these households rely on fuel-based sources of lighting such as kerosene and candles, which expose them to severe fire and health hazards.

Kenyans have to contend with punitive tariff prices, which are worsened by the high cost of energy infrastructure such as land acquisition and wayleaves. The challenge faced by low-income Kenyans is moving up the energy ladder by using more convenient, clean, and affordable energy. High prices for liquefied petroleum gas encourages ‘fuel stacking’ – where households adopt more than one type of fuel, rather than ‘fuel shifting’ as only a few people in rural areas can afford the refilling prices.

Inadequate infrastructure and data

Inadequate port facilities for handling cheaper energy resources including coal and natural gas coupled with delays in decision making due to complicated corporate governance structures have continually contributed to energy poverty in Kenya.

The situation is worse in counties where fiscal and other incentives for private sector investment are insufficient and majority of land use master plans for energy infrastructure are hardly updated. To add on, counties are faced with inadequate energy data that is crucial to guide decision making for energy access development programs at the county level.

This is further aggravated by a lack of understanding and uptake by county governments, investors and other stakeholders for more evidence-based and innovative approaches needed to deliver Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universal energy access.

Reaching the ‘Last Mile’ communities

The Last Mile Connectivity Project is a government initiative that intends to add an additional 1.5 million Kenyans in rural areas to the national grid. The project involves extending a low voltage network to reach households located within 600 meter-radius from a transformer, thereby reducing the cost of accessing electricity for the customer and supply for the power provider.

These projects have seen poor people in rural areas undertake productive activities to improve their livelihoods as a result of access to modern energy. For example, food enterprises requiring power for cooled storage of agricultural or fishery products and value addition have thrived in the rural areas.

Small businesses such as salons, welding, shopkeeping, barber shops among others have improved as services can be offered in the late evening and at dawn. Health facilities and schools have access to required energy standards for optimal service delivery. For example, a student has extra hours of studying while patients can access technical services such as scanning, X-rays among others.

The role of government

In line with Kenya Vision 2030, Kenya Electricity Company Limited (KETRACO) has already completed the construction of a number of high voltage transmission infrastructure comprising of lines, switch gears and sub-stations across the country. These include the 482 km 400kV double circuit Mombasa-Nairobi project which is the first of its kind in the region, the 97 km 132kV line, and sub-stations from Mumias Sugar Company through Rang’ala, to Kisumu, Kamburu-Meru 122 km single circuit 132kV line, among others.

In addition, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has aided through connecting public facilities and surrounding “last mile” homes across all 47 counties. REA has helped move rural electrification from 4% to 32% of rural households, largely through its efforts to connect ~60,000 public facilities (mostly primary schools) around the country and all household consumers within 600 meters of those facilities.

The government should expand renewable energy by supporting investments in the sector and aligning them with support from the international community. For instance, the Ministry of Energy could run auctions where private sector companies bid to invest in energy infrastructure. The government should also ensure that incentives such as tax exemption, speedy approval processes, and suitable regulations are available to interested parties and provide a framework for private sector investment.

Another significant advancement would be to make solar power affordable and convenient, particularly in rural areas where only a few households are connected to the national grid. Kenya needs to exponentially expand its energy transmission network which is plagued by flaws dating back decades. For example, the power generated from the Olkaria geothermal power station, cannot be used by the households and businesses that need it in Kisumu – only about 250 km away.

Member Spotlight – SYND (GHANA)

The Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND) was founded in September, 2008 and its mission is to achieve environmental sustainability through the development and active participation of young people in policy formulation, planning and implementation of interventions.

The founder of SYND, Chibeze Ezekiel, realized that young people were often neglected in decision making spaces because they were regarded as inexperienced. The organization seeks to disapprove this notion by giving young people appropriate training and support so that they are empowered to participate in environmental governance. As is the case in most African countries, young people in Ghana are grappling with unemployment and a lack of income that is exacerbated by energy poverty.

To combat this, SYND is currently involved in national consultation processes, publication of articles/papers as part of influencing key decision makers in the environment sector. They also participate in sensitization campaigns at the community level on environmental related issues. They have a core team of 7 volunteers and they have reached over 100,000 young people as a result of their advocacy work.

SYND is currently being supported by the World Bank Institute and UNDP to establish the Youth in Natural Resources and Environmental Governance (Youth-NREG) Platform. Going forward, they intend to create a platform to bring youth groups working in the natural resources and environmental sector and are in the process of developing the governance structure.

As Chibeze contends, “The surest way to guarantee sustainability of the global development agenda is to empower young people in line with the “Leave No One Behind” mantra of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” We couldn’t agree more!

SYND just released a report on ‘Youth Inclusion in the Governance of Natural Resources and Environmental Sector.’ You can read it here.

ACCESS at the SEforALL Charrettes in Amsterdam

ACCESS participated in the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Charrettes in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from 18 – 20 June, 2019. The Charretes were convened to challenge the status quo and generate disruptive ideas and solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7). According to the The Energy Progress Report 2019, 840 million people around the world still do not have access to electricity and 2.9 billion lack clean cooking solutions.

Using the design-thinking approach, participants were prompted to think out-of-the-box, challenge assumptions and come up with innovative solutions to accelerate achievement of SDG7. You can read a recap of the Charrettes here.

The ACCESS coalition also presented on the People Centered Accelerator (PCA) ‘Last Mile’ work stream, during the meeting held on 20th June 2019. Starting with Kenya, the ACCESS Coalition is partnering with Oxfam, World Resources Institute (WRI), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and Practical Action on a series of events aimed at advancing inclusive and integrated approaches to energy planning through advocacy by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues.

The events in Kenya will serve as the pilot project and a second phase will be planned for Ghana and Zambia. These events will culminate into the SEforALL Forum to be held in Kigali from 26 – 28 May 2020. We will keep you updated in subsequent posts.