What you need to know:
- Particularly, this programme has focused on the installation of the ultra-low head micro power systems in Kenya and Ethiopia.
- It involves recycling water from the tunnels within the irrigation scheme to produce energy.
- The low-cost power will encourage many, especially the youth, to venture into businesses.
- In particular, SDG 7 on clean energy and SDG 9 on industry, are addressed by the LCET programme.
The mention of recently concluded Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad VI) sends the thoughts of many to Nairobi city, which has recently become a favourite destination for international meetings.
However, as a side event during that conference, some delegates toured Kirinyaga County in central Kenya.
Like Nairobi, the sleepy Nyakiungu and Kiuria villages should have been as popular, at least for some hours as they hosted a number of delegates, mostly from Kenya, Ethiopia, Japan and Australia.
It is in these villages, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), jointly with the government of Japan, has been running a hydraulic energy project.
The project uses water from the Mwea Irrigation Scheme to produce electricity for local businesses.
BENEFITS SMALL BUSINESSES
Dubbed the low carbon emission clean energy technology transfer (LCET) programme, the project’s technology, will mostly be used to run small and medium-scale businesses.
Particularly, this programme has focused on the installation of the ultra-low head micro power systems in Kenya and Ethiopia as an inter-disciplinary solution in energy, climate change and sustainable development.
It involves recycling water from the tunnels within the irrigation scheme to produce energy which locals can use at low or no cost while keeping pollution at bay.
The technology had been in use in Japan and India. In Africa, it is currently in use only in Kenya and Uganda.
“This one is a pilot project, with [a similar one] running at Oromia in Ethiopia,” said Unido’s director for Energy Pradeep Monga
PROMOTE GREEN ENERGY USE
The projects, Monga added, are aimed at promoting affordable and efficient green energy that is sustainable for development.
The two countries were chosen as they were found to have a lot of commitment from stakeholders, according to Monga.
Prior to the field visit, stakeholders had a half-day workshop at a Nairobi hotel to review and share lessons learnt in the implementation of LCET programmes.
Among stakeholders who have been involved in the Kenyan and Ethiopia projects include government, educational institutions like the Kirinyaga University College, locals and non- governmental organisations.
“We want to ensure that we promote sustainable development through [the] use of hydropower in sectors such as agro-processing, home lighting and running local businesses,” said Monga
The Chairman of Mwea Irrigation Scheme Farmers Association Moses Mutugi said most people in the area depend on agriculture, yet availability of land seems to be a challenge.
PROMOTE SMALL-SCALE BUSINESSES
Over the years, Mr Mutugi noted, farmers within the Mwea scheme keep sub-dividing land to family members through successive generations.
“Even as population continues to grow, land does not increase. Therefore, it would be [important] to promote small-scale businesses and industries as alternative sources of income,” he said.
He said low-cost power will encourage many, especially the youth, to venture into businesses including value addition [projects] in the agricultural sector.
The power station, he added, will encourage innovation among the locals who will be positively influenced to adopt green energy.
USE OF DONOR MONEY
The tour of the Mwea project offered an opportunity for stakeholders to not only get a breather outside the capital city, but to also witness successful and efficient use of donor money.
Famous for production of pishori rice, Mwea is going to benefit from this project in ensuring less costly rice milling powered by hydraulic power.
Stakeholders from Kenya and Ethiopia also had an opportunity to exchange their experiences and lessons during the installation of the hydro-energy systems.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents ambitious goals which address economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development.
In particular, SDG 7 on clean energy and SDG 9 on industry, are addressed by the LCET programme.