Home COLUMNS AND OPINIONS Rural electrification will boost economic development

Rural electrification will boost economic development

by biasharadigest
By PETER ORETA

Today, we are seeing the importance of being connected to the electricity grid.

With children at home and people staying indoors, the importance of having access to electricity cannot be overstated.

Kenya has led the East African region in terms of mini grids and stand alone electrification systems. However, we are still working on increasing connectivity in the most remote areas.

In 2018, 75 per cent of Kenyans had access to electricity. But that access is concentrated in the most populous areas, covering only 28 per cent of the country’s land area or 33 counties.

This has still left many of our remote areas without a steady supply of electricity. Communities without access to electricity are often unable to access the same technology.

For this reason, the government’s development goals have included increasing access to electricity across the country.

Therefore, a new government initiative with funding by the World Bank aims to connect another 1.3 million households to electricity. The Ministry of Energy run Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (Kosap) will develop 121 mini grid sites, which will connect households using electricity generated within their localities.

The programme will also connect 207 secondary schools, 784 health clinics, and 106 county offices.

Through this initiative, Kosap will also install 380 water pumping systems and 150,000 solar powered cook stoves.

The project will be implemented over the next four years. It is important to build a more inclusive country with a stronger economy. Many off the grid communities are marginalised because they often lack access to quality roads, social services, and clean water.

The project aims to benefit groups with diverse needs, ranging from decent houses to schools and public facilities. It will maximise the number of beneficiaries and propel Kenya’s economic growth.

Ultimately, the principle at the core of the government’s development programmes, such as the Big Four and Vision 2030, is poverty eradication.

To do so, all government initiatives must target the sources of poverty and remove them.

During this tumultuous time, the government has its hands full with Covid-19 mitigation efforts. Quick decisions have had to be made, and budgets reallocated to the fight against the pandemic. But many long term projects such as the Kosap electrification can only be delayed but cannot be stopped by the pandemic. Things like the development of democracy are bound to continue. 

The success of our country is determined by the performance of each county. Those living in rural counties, just as much as those in urban, populous, and more prosperous ones, have the right to good education, healthcare, and connectivity to electricity.

We are learning from the Covid-19 crisis how important it is for young pupils  can access education materials online just as their peers around the globe.

Students with limited access to electricity might also be limited in their homework and study hours.

And mothers who are working hard everyday to prepare nutritious food for their families have to work much harder to prepare meals without a reliable, solar energy stove and ovens.

Kenyais on course to eradicating these impediments.

The crisis will eventually pass but our growth will never stop. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the government has not lost sight of the development goals. Slowly but surely, we are continuing to progress.

Mr Peter Oreta is social worker based in Kendu Bay

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