Renewable Energy Set to Transform Lives in Olderkesi, Narok

Mr. Koech makes a presentation about the project

Electricity being an essential part of modern life and vital for economic growth, JKUAT in collaboration with Kenya Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) has endeavored to provide Olderkesi, a marginalized town in Narok County, with clean renewable energy.

Under the auspices of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funded Project, Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (SEED), the two organizations in partnership with Technical University of Munich (TUM) are set to install a mini-grid system that will include a 12 KWp Solar PV system and 10m3 biogas plant.

In a meeting with Narok County officials and community members, August 31, 2021, JKUAT SEED Project Coordinating Officer, Mr. Dennis Koech said the mini-grid will provide more than 500 residents with renewable energy, and spur entrepreneurial activities in Olderkesi.

“The mini-grid will also serve as a living lab, giving research opportunities for students to acquire practical and experiential knowledge in generation, use, management and storage of clean energy,” elucidated Mr. Koech.

A cross-section of participants following proceedings during the meeting

Having done feasibility studies in Makueni, Kajiado, Kitui and Narok counties, Mr. Koech informed the county officials that the project settled on Olderkesi because of its electrification status, number of users and payment potential.

“Why Olderkesi? It is a marginalized area off the grid and the community’s willingness to pay, the overwhelming reception made the project settle for Olderkesi,” said Mr. Koech.

The willingness to pay, Mr. Koech said, will play a crucial part in the sustainability of the project even after the project implementers had left.

Apart from the engagement with the community to enhance ownership and sustainability, the project will carry out knowledge transfer to the community on mini-grid operation, agribusiness and engage other like-minded organizations and researchers on sustainable agriculture to catalyze entrepreneurship.

Debunking the notion that universities are ivory towers, JKUAT SEED Project Lead, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu said JKUAT has a mandate to not only train but carry out collaborative research that is beneficial to the community.

He further informed the meeting that JKUAT engages in multi-disciplinary collaborative research, with a proven track record of capacity building, technology transfer to communities, and a significant contribution to sustainable development.

“This is why I am confident that the project will be a success. Our training and research is always geared towards improving the livelihood and well-being of the community,” said Dr. Ndiritu.

Ms. Sengeny gives her remarks

Narok County Chief Officer, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ms. Sophia Sengeny lauded the efforts of the project and said she was confident that the project will be beneficial to the community borrowing from the success of a similar project in the County.

On the County’s part, Ms. Sengeny said they will work with various bodies to ensure that the relevant documentation of the project are facilitated to ensure the smooth running of the project.

She was equally impressed by the fact that the mini-grid will be used as a demonstration site run by the local community. She further called for more collaborations in different sectors.

“It is gratifying to note that the project is run in collaboration with the community to enhance sustainability. Let us use this project to foster more collaborative engagements for the betterment of the people of Narok,” said Ms. Sengeny.

Multi-agency collaboration key to the success of SEED

Johnathan Yewke, a member of the local community said they were looking forward to the installation of the mini-grid which, he noted, would be beneficial to the entrepreneurial vision of Olderseki.

He, however, urged the County government to fast-track the provision of the requisite documentation to safeguard the success of the project.

The meeting was also addressed by various Directors of Narok County, REREC, and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) officials, among others.

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