Kenya’s world-class story not told
At the largest conference of parties on climate change in Poland last month, the Kenyan delegation should have taken advantage of the occasion to showcase our remarkable achievements to the 200 countries physically represented by 30,000 delegates and millions following the event through the media.
Despite a few challenges here and there, Kenya is on record as the best-performing country in Africa and ninth in the world in terms of geothermal power generation, producing some 534 megawatts and aggressively expanding it to 1,119MW by 2022, according to the Kenya Power Generation Company (KenGen).
Geothermal energy is actually generated from heat stored underneath the earth and is clean, devoid of carbon emission and, above all, sustainable.
It could be generated from shallow ground to hot water and hot rocks a few kilometres beneath the earth’s surface, and sometimes deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock, also known as magma.
The 365 wind turbines at the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Loiyangalani, Marsabit County, produce 310MW of reliable and sustainable energy.
This is one of its kind in Africa and deserved to be showcased to other countries, investors, non-governmental organisations, United Nations agencies and the various delegations at such a climate marketplace as the Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice.
Innovations providing off-grid solar power to tens of thousands of households in different rural areas is another achievement that the country needed to show off.
Apart from just lighting homes, households in rural Kenya have moved a notch higher to irrigate small parcels of land using portable solar-powered pumps, put up enterprises such as off-grid barber shops powered by solar energy, while thousands can now watch television news every evening using solar energy.
The now-popular M-Kopa solar project is just but one of the innovations and is considered as the world’s leading pay-as-you-go energy provider to off-grid homes in East Africa.
It has so far attracted funding from finance institutions such as the Green Climate Finance.
Coupled with other green energy sources such as the hydro and other smaller wind-powered plants, such as the one at Ngong Hills, then our country is doing very well with a total of 84 percent of all the energy in the grid being green.
Solar energy to the main grid remains largely untapped in Kenya. But going with examples from countries such as Morocco and India, there is a huge potential in solar, which provides a bankable opportunity for climate financing.
Apart from the energy sector, Kenya is one of the very first countries to develop climate change-related policy documents at both the national and county levels.
These provide a humble working environment and political goodwill for anyone willing to invest in related projects.
However, Kenya did not seize the moment to tell this story at COP 24 because there was no proper platform — something that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry must take into account when planning to participate in future similar conferences.
In such a case, a Kenyan pavilion could be a very good interaction space for both national and county governments in attendance to showcase all these climate-related achievements.
Representatives can also talk about the potential and future plans through recorded videos, small publications stored in gadgets such as flash disks, and face-to-face interviews between Kenya’s representatives and thousands of international journalists and inquisitive participants.
As well, in his deserved speech to parties at the high-level segment at COP 24, the head of Kenya’s delegation fell short of mentioning, or even just alluding to, any of these achievements.
And this in the same space where other countries were being applauded for simply boosting their green energy production to just 20 percent of their energy mix!
With the world eager to slow down global warming, many investors and climate financiers will, definitely, seek to move to countries such as Kenya, which have already shown an interest in going green.
When money is invested in such development projects, all Kenyans stand to benefit from the increased power supply, which leads to job creation, improved transport infrastructure such as electric trains and trams and the expansion of industry, among many other benefits.
Mr Esipisu, a journalist, is the coordinator for the Pan-African Media Alliance for Climate Change (Pamacc). firstname.lastname@example.org