Interview with John Kioli, Chair of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, by Hannah Mottram

Tell us about your organisation

The Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG)  is a consortium of over 300 organisations working climate on climate issues. We try to support government in international meetings, such as the recent COP in Marrakech. Our civil society members have been engaged with energy and climate issues for longer than some members of government, so it is a strength that we can support. We also maintain an oversight of government and county policies, and hold them to account.


John Kioli with Kenyan delegates at COP22

We have three broad objectives

  • To bring CSOs together that are dealing with climate change,
  • To look at what gaps there are in policy and legislation with regards to climate change
  • To come up with suggested changes.

What are the main energy access challenges in Kenya?

One of them is the issue of the definition of energy access – policy makers don’t always get this right. It is often translated as how many households are connected to energy, rather than looking at it with a lens of equity and a pro poor view.

The second challenge is technology and technology transfer. Components of products that are supposed to meet the gap of equity are expensive, such as cook stoves. Efficient cook stoves which are supposed to help poor people are costing over $30 dollars, which is still a barrier to the poorest.

There are also issues around micro-financing. There is a gap in capital available to help people access technology such as solar lanterns and efficient stoves. Mobile payment solar schemes are a step, but they are still expensive. The most common can charge and have a torch – but there is a variety of prices. Mobile payment schemes are a good thing but some people may be forced to enter into an arrangement because it is the only solution. If they had access to money you could access other solutions. Some imported products are poor quality, but many are very good, efficient and versatile. There are more options than just M-KOPA. If we had access to finance then there are many other options which could work with and compete to decrease prices.

How have you engaged on national level energy policy issues?

We have embarked on  Kenyan policy through SEforALL and engaging with the energy bill that started 2 years ago. We are now looking at how SEforALL has been mainstreamed. We have been involved with national advocacy programmes. We have been going to counties, where most energy policy is decided, to share the knowledge of the need for sustainable energy for all. This has included meeting county officials to ensure they understand about SEforALL and what it should be. We have been supported by CAFOD which has enabled us to work with counties on sustainable energy.

Tell us about an energy project where you could share your learning with others/successes and challenges

We have had a lot of engagement in Kitui County where we have been engaging on county issues on SEforALL. The main challenge is the understanding of energy access, and that electricity is not only what is needed in rural areas. We have mainstreamed this to the counties and supported their knowledge. We are looking at if we can bring this matter to be incorporated in county level development plans, which are the main documents that define how money will be spent on energy projects.

How did you become involved in energy access?

I’ve been following energy issues for the last 20 years. From a climate justice perspective, we have always had questions around access and equity (not just from access to grid, which is mostly championed by governments in developing countries). ACCESS has been a vital organ in building our capacity at an international level – influencing SEforALL and sharing engagements and experience in other countries. The ACCESS forum has been very useful in building my capacity and help my organisation see where we are and where we want to be.

Do you have any final comments?

I think that there is a global problem on funding for sustainable energy. There is still low funding, especially for advocacy. This is limiting how far we can go – so this is my appeal for change.