Kenya: KUDURA Mini-grid
Maximising the impact of solar mini-grids
Kenya’s power sector has seen considerable growth in recent years, with 75% of the population now having access to electricity. However, in several counties, the majority of rural communities continue to rely on kerosene for their main source of lighting. Kenya’s Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation has identified off-grid power as a cost-effective and efficient way to connect remote and rural areas. The Government of Kenya is also committed to improving access to clean water among those communities.
InfraCo Africa is working with renewable energy developer Rural Village Energy Solutions (RVE.SOL) to support the scale-up of its innovative multi-sector KUDURA Power East Africa (KPEA) business. RVE.SOL has established 11 operational mini-grids in the country to date, serving 3,200 customers, the partnership with InfraCo Africa will enable the company to consolidate the sector in Kenya and East Africa. Linked to its mini-grid infrastructure, the company is piloting delivery of street lighting and appliance financing as well as water pumping and purification capacity to act as a catalyst for rural economic development.
The KUDURA Mini-grid project will build an additional 28 mini-grids in Kenya’s Turkana county, 6000km north of the capital, Nairobi. Incorporating battery back-up, the mini-grids will range in size from 20 – 60kWp. The modular nature of the mini-grids will enable KPEA to respond to changing need over time, redeploying capacity across its sites as demand increases. It is anticipated that the project will provide approximately 3,500 new connections, mostly for rural households, and will densify existing KPEA grids in Busia county to connect a further 910 households. It will also deliver electricity for productive use in applications such as fishing cold chains and Electric Vehicle charging.
Alongside delivery of clean electricity, a proportion of the sites will have water pumping and purification systems installed to deliver clean drinking water, a precious commodity in the hot and dry Turkana county. Customers will purchase water alongside their power needs via electronic tokens.
The project is supported by the Green Mini Grid facility Kenya (GMG Kenya), a programme implemented by Agence Française de Développement since 2016 and funded by UKAid and EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund. GMG Kenya provided investment support to KUDURA during the early years which resulted in 11 electrified villages in Busia County and is now expanding the investment to another 28 villages in Turkana. This follow on investment is based on the successes in the early phases of the project and will serve rural households, local communities and public lighting in Busia county and contribute significantly to their socio economic development. The project already secured US$235,000 of grant funding from PIDG Technical Assistance to support a variety of capacity building initiatives and technical studies.
Having identified appliance cost as a key barrier to its customers establishing value-added businesses once clean, reliable power arrived in their community, the company now offers tiers of appliance financing. Finance is available for kitchen appliances, barber shop equipment, phones, televisions and refrigerators. SMEs and farmers can also access financing for computer, carpentry and welding equipment, incubators, drip irrigation systems and flour milling.
It is anticipated that the KUDURA Mini-grid project will scale up mini-grids as a commercially viable infrastructure class, attracting private sector investment and demonstrating the value of a joined up approach to the delivery of power, water, street lighting and appliance finance as a stimulus for rural economic development.
Being financed by InfraCo Africa and RVE.SOL with grant funding from Agence Française de Développement’s (AFD) GMG II Kenya Mini-grid Facility programme (funded by EU-AITF).