Solar Power for Houses and Businesses (SPHB) Policy Advisory Committee held its sixth meeting, on 29th July 2020, since formation in April amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Prof. Walter Oyawa, Director General NACOSTI, gave his inaugural address after a benchmarking presentation, by the team leader, Dr. Amollo Ambole. The Benchmarking focused on best practices in other countries, including regulatory framework and programmes by respective governments and other stakeholders, solar PV market segments, key barriers in adoption at the local level and Existing regulatory framework at the local level promoting solar PV adoption.

The Committee has representatives from Strathmore University (Chair of the Committee and has 600 kW solar panels installed in their Nairobi West Campus); University of Nairobi has two representatives i.e. Department of Physics who have installed 3 kW solar panels and plan to spread that to all buildings in Chiromo Campus, Main Campus and Arts and Design Department – and the Institute of Climate Change and Adaptation); Nuclear Power and Energy Agency and KenGen; and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute.

Terms of Reference for the committee were developed with the main objectives of the Committee being: enabling expansion of entrepreneurship to spur economic development and expand the local content to stimulate both human resource capacity and manufacturing/production of components. Further objectives included: Explore ways of encouraging more people to embrace solar for own use as well as sell to Kenya Power (costs, reliability, information, policies etc.) and recommend to the government accordingly, Explore ways of utilizing as much local content and materials as possible in the execution of the solar projects and recommend to the government and Explore ways of empowering small businesses and jua-kali sector to plug in offering simple solutions and consuming the same.

Some of the key recommendations were:

  • The government should develop a self-consumption policy framework that will be favorable for adoption of solar for households and businesses. For example, there is need to create subsidiary legislations for net metering
  • In terms of regulation and enforcement, the government should ensure that that consumers get high quality products and services at all levels along the supply chain.
  • Energy stakeholders should create a platform to encourage the participation of women in solar initiatives.
  • The government should create a clear path to competition enhancement through a viable business model that is specific to the Kenyan case.
  • The national and county governments should work together to integrate national and county policy frameworks on solar energy.
  • Businesses, especially in the jua-kali sector should create innovative solutions for solar energy using locally available resources. Such businesses would require business support services like micro-financing and basic micro-enterprise training.
  • Institutions of higher learning should encourage more uptake of technical courses focused on solar energy technologies. In this regard, academia should collaborate with government and industry to develop standardized, accredited, industry-relevant curricula, as well as provide career development programs for graduates.
  • The National Research Fund (NRF) should allocate funding for research into local solar solutions.

These recommendations will be followed by stakeholder consultations and a draft policy brief that will be subjected to a stakeholder validation workshop. Thereafter a Final Policy Brief will be developed. The tentative budget for the one-year activity is Kshs 3.2 million. It was discussed that SPHB Policy Advisory Committee can become one of the first consortia on housing and energy as a working team of the Research Consortia. This would make the outcome of this work a key priority of Kenya’s research agenda. NACOSTI also challenged the Committee to give its inputs on how Kenya may deal with Covid-19 and called on NACOSTI representatives to share the Research Priority. The meeting ended by noting that the final policy brief would be adopted and channeled to the Ministry of Energy for adoption and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for implementation.