The Government of Kenya in this year’s budget recognized that reliable and affordable energy is necessary for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction.
Thus, the Ministry of Energy was allocated about twofold increased budget amounting Sh.65.7 billion, up from Sh.34.9 billion in 2010/11 fiscal year. Of this amount, geothermal development will receive Sh.16.1 billion, which will be used to drill and assess the viability of producing 140 MW.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta articulated that attention will also be given to the Rural Electrification Programme which will benefit from Sh.5.6 billion to facilitate supply of power from national grid to 460 trading centres and 110 secondary schools, among other public facilities country wide.
“The expansion of power access to rural areas is one of the initiatives to support rural enterprise development, create employment and improve the living conditions of our people,” said Kenyatta.
However, a collaboration between the Government of Kenya and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (GEF – KAM) through the Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC), energy efficient project points out that industries can save up to 30 percent of their primary energy input.
CEEC energy survey audit survey show that this cumulatively translates to financial saving of over Sh 2.5 billion per annum.
CEEC in their report titled “Lowering Energy Costs: A Guide to Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Kenya” says energy efficient technologies have proven to cost less than they take to install and use.
Developing countries like India and Brazil with many similarities with Kenya are increasingly benefiting from such technologies.
“In Kenya, awareness of the benefits of improved energy efficiency is growing, but rather slowly,” the report says, adding that “the day to day use of these technologies, is far behind the potential.”
Some of these energy technologies are compact fluorescent lights while others are very advanced and expensive, requiring large initial costs to install.
However the report says that if properly planned and implemented, such projects have proven to repay themselves in reasonable time.
The report show that a number of technologies hold great promise for Kenyan organizations and institutions such as hotels, hospitals and factories, for whom energy is a significant proportion of the total operating cost.
Mr James Wafula a renewable energy don at the University of Nairobi, Institute of Nuclear Science, says that Kenya needs to embrace cheap but efficient technologies through harnessing energy that is paramount for industrialization.
Mr Wafula explains that the institute has drummed up short courses that can equip the youths with skills and expertise to be able to catch up with the rest of developing countries that are benefiting from energy efficient technologies.
The CEEC report is out to enlighten Kenyans on the means to reduce energy costs at household, corporate and government levels. The report unveils that action is required at an administrative level through technical projects such as modifying or replacing work facilities and processes.
“Depending on the extent of the measures, the required investment will vary from no-cost to millions of Kenyan shillings in the case of complete system developments,” GEF-KAM, National Project Manager, Mr Pual Kirai, says.
Mr. Kirai says that energy adds to the overall cost of running a service, a production or other commercial facilities. “Its proper management increases a company’s profit by keeping energy costs to a minimum.” He says that every person within the organization needs to be involved for success to be realized.
For towns and cities suffocating from waste, the GEF-KAM Manager says “most municipal waste can burn and, therefore, be utilized as fuel. This will not only serve as an energy saving measure but also as a big environmental improved measure.”
Nevertheless, Kenyatta in his budget speech said “We have abundant clean energy potential which remains untapped and in the recent past we have provided incentives to support production of clean energy.”
The Treasury has taken strategic steps, such as ensuring that imported Solar panels are duty free while the imported raw materials for the manufacture of the same attract duty at 25 percent and 10 percent which in effect makes local manufacture unattractive.
“To encourage local manufacturing,” the minister said “I propose to grant duty remission on inputs for the production of solar panels.”