Residents of Wasini and Mkwiro islands in Lungalunga, Kwale County, will benefit from a Sh118 million project to connect over 400 households to solar-powered electricity for the first time.
The new project, funded by the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC), will have two solar plants set up in the two areas.
This is the first the islands, which are accessed through the Shimoni channel in the Indian Ocean, will be connected to the national electricity grid since independence, with their remoteness cited as a major challenge.
Wasini will get a solar plant on a three-quarter-acre piece of land and Mkwiro’s on two acres.
REREC Director-General David Gitonga said the project will be completed by December.
“In the next three months, residents will already have access to electricity. We want to ensure that the project is completed on time to have the residents benefit from it,” said Mr Gitonga.
But to get their houses connected, he said, residents will bear the cost of wiring their homes.
“This has been our greatest challenge, where residents in rural areas are unable to wire their houses. I would advise them to do so early enough so that it becomes easy to get their houses connected,” he said.
He explained that REREC would collaborate with the Kwale County government to connect more schools and health centres to electricity.
“We are out to ensure that residents in this area finally get access to electricity to boost business in the area,” said Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani.
A majority of residents depend on kerosene to light their lamps and that is costly, she said. She spoke in her office after she handed over two title deeds to officials from REREC.
Wasini, a tourist destination, has been grappling with lack of electricity for decades. Businesses in the hospitality industry have also had to purchase solar panels.
“I can now get a fridge for storing the fish. Our partners in the restaurants used to make the foods by order and not be able to serve cold drinks, but we believe once the project is completed, this is going to change,” said Wasini Beach Management Unit secretary Kassim Mohammed.
He added that the county government should work to ensure the project is completed on time.