Sustainable energy sector central to development

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 00:00 |
Geothermal energy. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya, like all other countries across the globe, aspires to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to its citizens.

Energy resources provide opportunities to confront many economic and social challenges. Indeed, access to reliable and clean energy is a priority for governments as a key driver for development.

However, in the advent of a new technological cycle, the energy sector must adapt to the overwhelming need to address the development demands without harming the environment.

Sustainable energy remains the key solution to establishing a balance between conserving the environment and promoting growth.

Achieving this sustainable reality requires considering the best innovative technologies to improve energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources and clean technologies.

Critically, it requires an appraisal of the amount of financial resources needed for the energy transition and a fundamental transformation of the global energy system.

These issues will be in focus today when Future Energy East Africa regional power conference opens at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). 

Hosted by the Energy ministry, the conference, which brings together more than  1,800 professionals and leaders from the regional and international power and energy community in 34 countries, will deliberate on approaches to the development of renewable energy.

This important forum will discuss the status of critical projects and identify lucrative opportunities, well aware of the need for political will, international cooperation and an appropriate technological base.

The conference coincides with a World Bank Report, Rethinking Power Sector Reform in the Developing World, which looks at the evidence on the ways in which developing countries have attempted to improve power sector performance.

The report notes that regulation has proved to be the most popular of the reforms, with about 70 per cent of developing countries creating quasi-independent regulatory entities to oversee the task of setting prices and monitoring the quality of service.

USAid’s Power Africa initiative, launched by then US President Barack Obama in July, 2013, brings together technical and legal experts, the private sector and governments in a partnership to increase the number of people with access to power. The programme lists four major issues and bottlenecks in Kenya’s energy sector.

They include inadequate access to project financing, land risks, long procedures and inconsistency in approval of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and lack of clear off-grid regulatory framework.

Power Africa aims at adding more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections in the continent.

Kenya’s current electricity capacity is 2,651MW, with peak demand of 1,802MW as at June 2018, predominantly from hydro and fossil fuel (thermal). As at June 2016, about 55 per cent of Kenyans were connected to the grid.

In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Energy Act 2019, allowing the sector to take further steps towards modernisation and development. 

Regulation has proved to be the most popular of the energy sector reforms worldwide, but although many countries have instituted solid legal frameworks, the practice of regulation still lags behind.

As the energy sector continues with reforms, it is prudent that the key players and stakeholders dwell more on privatisation, restructuring, competition, political will and technology disruption. [email protected]

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