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Solar lamp social enterprise mulls manufacturing plant in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – Social Enterprise firm GeNNex is set to build its manufacturing plant in Kenya as it eyes the rapidly expanding solar energy sector. 

The firm produces solar products that charge phone devices and provide power to homes, using off-grid systems.

Nathaniel Peat the firms’ Co – Founder, says Kenya has become an important market for them having already invested Sh26.4 million in the market.

The company is already in other countries including Zambia, United Kingdom and Jamaica.

“We are very interested in Kenya. We will soon set up here right after we finish testing the waters, a huge focus of our work is on empowering communities – we do this by teaching them how to build, assemble and maintain our devices, and by doing so, create a workforce that supports commercial sales, while providing education, learning and jobs,” Peat told Capital FM Business.

The firm will be training about 40 young people in Kibera in conjunction with Kibera Slum Community on how to build, assemble and maintain their solar devices so as they are able to make it a viable business for them.

“We are starting with Kibera, soon we will go to Eldoret, Narok, and Nakuru. We are hoping to train at least 40 people from each town in every quarter. Depending on the uptake, we will decide on when to set up shop here,” he promised.

Kenya is said to have a high potential for solar energy production given the high exposure levels from the sun throughout the year.

Nathaniel Peat the firms’ Co – Founder, says Kenya has become an important market for them having already invested Sh26.4 million in the market.

The intensity of sunlight, not heat, determines solar electricity production.

The country has a vibrant private sector, particularly in the small-scale Photovoltic(PV) market, including M-Kopa Solar and dLight.

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As of 2010, over 320,000 rural households that represent 4.4 percent of rural people in Kenya had solar home systems. Annually, it is estimated that 25,000-30,000 PV systems are sold in the market.

Statistics indicate that solar PV lantern sales have reached to about one million units in 2014.

Figures from the Energy Regularity commission (ERC) of Kenya show that the total installed capacity is likely to be over 20Megawatt Peak (MWp) as of January 2015 with projections to grow by 15 percent annually.

PV systems commercially distributed to rural areas of Kenya typically consist of 14 to 20MWp, wiring, rechargeable battery, sometimes a charge controller system, lighting systems, and connections to small appliances.

“The government should continuously enhance the teaching of   STEM (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in schools where young people who are disengaged with science are taught how to build solar lanterns in a bid to increase the interest and use of Solar in a country that has expensive cost of power,” Peat noted.

As at the end of June 2016, the country’s electricity access rate went up from 27 percent three years ago to 60 percent.

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