Harnessing local resources in times of pandemics

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Pandemics in world history.

Rebecca Miano 

Countries across the world are facing unprecedented times as a result of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

Globally, there are more than eight million confirmed cases, while in Kenya, there were 3,860 infections as at June 16  and over 100 fatalities.

This crisis has affected every industry. A pandemic of this magnitude was last witnessed in the world in 1918.

Christened  the Spanish Flu, the disease infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 50 million.

At the time, just like it is today, there were no drugs or vaccines to treat the killer flu strain. 

It is during black swan events such as pandemics and economic recessions that  the trajectory of governments, organisations, economies, and businesses are altered.

In an article published in the Entrepreneur Magazine on March 16, Hamza Mudassir, the managing director of makes reference to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic of 2002-2004, which catalysed the meteoric growth of a then small e-commerce company Alibaba, and also helped establish it at the forefront of retail in Asia.

Alibaba’s growth was steered by underlying anxiety around travelling and human contact, similar to what is happening today.

Mudassir also mentions the financial crises of 2008 which saw Airbnb and Uber’s popularity shoot up across the West.

The financial crisis meant lower savings and income for the masses, forcing individuals to share assets in the form of spare rooms and car rides in order to cover for the deficit. 

In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on April 12, 2020, Joe Mozingo holds the same opinion as Mudassir.

He observes that as much as epidemics have brought about death and grief, they have also motivated immense transformations in medicine, technology, government in March, 2020, KenGen placed its critical teams on a shift system to minimise exposure and ensure continuity of energy production.

In an effort to decongest the workplaces, the company also allowed other employees to work from home.

The organization has also established regional teams with small working groups to run power stations.

As we continue assessing the situation and adopting suitable measures to fight this scourge, it is worth reiterating that energy remains a key component in the fight against the virus . 

Kenya is also endowed with huge geothermal energy resources, whose production has been growing over the years.

The country’s effort to enhance the production of geothermal energy has paid off.

Kenya’s search for geothermal energy dates back to the 1950s when the country embarked on exploratory work in Olkaria, Naivasha.

Kenya, now the seventh largest geothermal energy producer on the planet, has invested  heavily in geothermal resource development as well as expertise. 

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey of 2020 indicates that geothermal remains the major source of electricity in Kenya accounting for 45 per cent of total generation.

According to the report by KNBS, the country has an installed geothermal energy capacity of 828.4MW. 

This growth has been spearheaded by KenGen which has expertise in rig operations, drilling, geothermal power plant development and maintenance. 

Usage of renewable energy, such as geothermal allows countries, Kenya included, to enhance self-sufficiency and also limit dependency on costly imports and non-renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy is clean, non-depletable and has a lower environmental impact than conventional energy sources. 

Geothermal energy has the potential to support the country’s growth as it builds a strong and resilient economy in the face of COVID-19. —The writer is the Managing Director and CEO of KenGen

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