One-Solar-Panel-Per-Home Initiative to Boost Education

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A government parastatal in Kenya has embarked on a project to ensure all homesteads in Kenya have access to solar power. Dubbed “one-solar-panel-per-home”, the initiative by the Rural Electrification Authority will boost learning especially in schools located at the remote parts of the country. It will also enable the government to roll out the ICT-for-schools project, by making available this affordable and renewable source of power.

Mount Kenya University Chairman Dr. Simon Gicharu says this initiative will also have a compound effect on the quality of learning at institutions of higher learning.

“Moulding quality graduates does not start at university level. It starts as early as primary school.”

The untapped potential of solar energy has of late sparked a flurry of initiatives. They include the Akon Lighting Africa (by US singer Akon), which is targeting 600 million people in Africa, and various brands of solar-powered tablet computers, which are being floated as a more viable solution to the government of Kenya’s ICT-for-schools project.

A report titled Solar Potential in Kenya by Eng. Henry Gichungi of the University of Oslo hails the government’s support on the rising interest on renewable energy. The report notes that the Ministry of Energy targets to supply education facilities in arid and semi-arid lands 15 km away from the grid. “Currently 220 schools have been electrified using stand alone solar systems with a total capacity of 574.22 kW at a cost of Euros 6.16 million. Tender for another 117 institutions has been floated at an estimated cost of Euros 2.5 million. Another Euros 10 million has been provided by Spain to electrify 380 selected institutions with solar,” adds the report.

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