Dr. Faith Wandera-Odongo serves as Deputy Director, Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Kenya. She is also an award winner of Women in Energy Awards, East Africa, 2019.

She holds a PhD in Strategic Business Management from Aalborg Universitet, Denmark in collaboration with Moi University, Kenya, and a Masters degree in Environmental planning and Management from Kenyatta University, Kenya (2005).

1.What inspired you to work in the energy access sector?

It was not by choice that I pursued a career in the energy sector, but it was the first employment opportunity that came my way after acquiring the first degree in Agriculture Economics. I didn’t restrict myself to the Agriculture background when looking for a job, and little did I know that I would stay in one Ministry for such a long period (1987 to present).

It has, however, been a learning curve and my passion for energy development and service has grown with time. I have developed my expertise in the renewable energy field and can authoritatively speak on issues relating to sustainable energy development, bioenergy, clean cooking, climate change, electric cooking and gender mainstreaming in the energy sector.

  1. What have been your key achievements in your career?

I initiated the development of the Renewable Energy scheme of service at the Ministry of Energy, Kenya. The scheme which was operationalized in 2008 has been instrumental in the growth of two divisions (Biomass and Alternative Energy) to the current Renewable Energy Directorate. The directorate now provides employment to a number of young staff (both female and male) who are seeking to develop their careers through the energy sector. Currently the Directorate employs over 30 staff up from about 12.

I coordinated stakeholder engagement on the development of the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Action Agenda (AA) (2016) which is a key document in the domestication of SDG 7 in Kenya. The Action Agenda has borne key strategies in the Energy Sector namely: Bioenergy Strategy (2020-2027), Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (2020). It has also been a key resource document for shaping the Integrated National Energy Planning (INEP) process which unpacks the separation of energy development functions as prescribed by the Constitution of Kenya and the Energy Act 2019.

I coordinated the development of the first draft of the County Energy planning Framework in 2018, and this has been improved with time, to become part of the INEP framework which will guide the elaboration of National and County Energy Plans. Implementation of the framework is expected to streamline planning, implementation and monitoring while facilitating synergy between initiatives by the public sector, private sector, development partners and civil society organizations.

Clean cooking is now a national priority, thanks to the recommendations of the AA. I am currently coordinating the Kenya National Cooking Strategy and the National Electric Cooking Strategy. Kenya is a pioneer in the development of the two strategies and has become a destination for benchmarking by other countries.

I also contributed to the Gender Audit of the Energy Policy which was instrumental in developing the Gender in Energy Policy (2019), currently being implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.

  1. What are the challenges you’ve faced in your line of work?

The low priority given to cooking activities has presented challenges in accessing relevant funding from the public and development partners. The cooking sector is very complex and brings together many stakeholders, hence ensuring coherence is a major challenge, but we hope to overcome this through the National Cooking Strategy.

  1. What’s your message as we commemorate international women’s Month? 

Women are major contributors to national development and should be given more opportunities in advancing their education, leadership and management capabilities. Gender equality is smart economics (World Bank, 2010)