JKUAT Breaks Ground for Mini-Grid Installation in Olderkesi

Prof. Ikua cuts tape to officially signify the commencement of mini-grid installation. He is flanked by Chief Kipees to his left, Mr. Cherbogei and REREC’s Purity Kimotho  to his right.

After several months of consultations and co-creation with the Olderkesi community members, Narok County government and other stakeholders, the Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (SEED) Project has finally broken ground. 

This gives a green light for the installation of a 12 Kwp mini-grid plant, that will see the community members, who are otherwise currently off-grid, access to renewable energy and consequently entrepreneurial opportunities. The ground-breaking event commenced with the transfer of various mini-grid technologies and equipment from the University Main Campus in Juja, to Olderkesi Trading Centre in Narok West Constituency.

The project, domiciled under the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC), aims to offer higher education at the intersection of sustainable energies and entrepreneurship, and to conduct research that contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The project is a joint initiative of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Technical University of Munich.

Prof. Ikua addresses the community members at the installation site.

Prof. Bernard Ikua, the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration and Finance), reaffirmed that the SEED Centre initiative falls under JKUAT’s mandate of Training, Research, Capacity building, and technology transfer, and committed that the University would look into more areas of partnership with the community. He was speaking during the ground-breaking event, Thursday December 9, 2021.

On his part, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu, the Project Lead and Ag. Principal, College of Engineering and Technology, thanked the community and other stakeholders for embracing the initiative and unequivocally supporting it to get to the ground-breaking milestone.

The container with mini-grid technologies is loaded onto a truck from the University to Olderkesi

“This project is denoted with the acronym SEED, and if I may use the typical seed as a metaphor, today we are planting a seed. It will need water, a conducive environment, sunlight, and good constant nurturing. As a University, our happiness will be seeing you thrive and grow as a result of this project. Multiply this seed, and let it improve livelihoods. Be aggressive and exploit the project to the fullest,” he implored the community members.

Narok County Director of Renewable Energy, Mr. Peter Cherbogei, assured the project team of unwavering support from the leadership of the County Government, indicating that the entire county leadership will be present to witness, when for the first time, it will be lights on in Olderkesi. He also lauded the team for sourcing human resource from the local community, thereby creating employment opportunities.

Echoing his sentiments, the Olderkesi Assistant Chief, Mr. Dickson Kima, urged the community members who would get employment opportunities from the project to serve diligently.

Mr. Kima (Left) addresses the community members ahead of the ground-breaking.

Safari hii imekua mrefu, na tumefurahia hatua zile tumepiga. Ningependa kuwahimiza tuendelea kushirikiana na hii timu kutoka JKUAT, ndio tuweze kuona matunda ya muradi huu. Kwa wale wataajiriwa kwa huu mradi, msituangushe kama jamii. mfanye kazi vile inafaa…” (This journey has been long, and we’re happy for the milestones we’ve achieved. I wish to urge the community to continue working closely with the team from JKUAT, so that we can see this project bear fruits. To those who will get employed in the project, take your job seriously, and don’t let us down),” he said.

The area Chief, Mr. Nicholas Kipees, on his part emphasized that the community members understand the importance of development, and that the project would continue to receive support and cooperation.

From Left; JKUAT SEED Centre team members Dr. Ndiritu, Prof. Muturi, Prof. Ikua, and Mr. Koech confer after the ground-breaking.

“I also want to thank the team from JKUAT for your constant communication, and always keeping us in the loop. We are ready to receive and welcome any guests who will be coming here as a result of this project,” added Mr. Kipees.

The installation of the mini-grid is expected to be completed in January 2022, and is expected to reach an estimated population of 500 inhabitants drawn from Olderkesi. It will also serve as a living lab, using locally sourced bio mass and high solar PV exposure experience to give postgraduate students research opportunities, as well as acquire practical and experiential knowledge in generation, use, management, and storage of clean energy.

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