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 Busia County in north west Kenya, the majority of people continue to rely on kerosene for their main source of lighting. Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority 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.
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 20 operational mini-grids in the country to date, serving 3,370 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 water pumping and purification capacity.
The KUDURA Mini-grid project will build an additional 22 mini-grids in Kenya’s Busia County, 450km northwest of the capital, Nairobi. Incorporating battery back-up, the mini-grids will range in size from 10 – 60kWp, totalling 512kWp. 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 6,100 new connections, mostly for rural households, and will densify existing KPEA grids to connect a further 910 households.
Alongside delivery of clean electricity, KPEA will scale its innovative multi-sector approach with the goal of catalysing greater economic development. It is anticipated that each mini-grid will provide street lighting to address security concerns and to promote night-time trading. A proportion of the sites will also have water pumping and purification systems installed to deliver clean drinking water, with customers purchasing 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 and is now expanding the investment to another 22 villages. 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 recently 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 delivery of power, water, street lighting and appliance finance as a catalyst for rural economic development.
Being delivered 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).