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Understanding energy needs in rural Kenya: the first steps

Click here to see the insights from our needs assessment

In 2017, we started our first initiative in Kenya, called Project Jua (‘Jua’ means ‘sunshine’ in Swahili). Our aim is to electrify rural schools and health clinics in the country’s least developed areas with solar panels, and help improve education and health outcomes for those living there.

Posted:

26 September 2019

Project Jua was our pilot project, and we’ve put all our energy into it. We wanted to power 20 sites in Kenya’s most remote counties: Turkana (which is in the north, bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia) and Kilifi (a coastal area in the south, near Mombasa). The goal? Simple: to understand the energy needs of rural schools and health clinics from the bottom up – and use those findings to support the scaling of Project Jua.

How we got things rolling

We believe that changing the world should be something we do together. That’s why we want to share with you what we’ve learned from the initial site surveys (done just before the project kicked off).

Just hit this to read the insights we got from interviewing schools in Turkana and Kilifi.

That was just the beginning

To find out how accurate our predictions were, we installed remote monitoring systems (RMS) in the initial 20 sites. These systems are similar to the smart meters we use in the UK. They enable us to gather live data on energy production and use from each site, which means that we can soon start predicting the energy needs of more schools and more health clinics.

We can do that by overlaying the info we get from the RMS with how many students are in a school, or how many services a health clinic offers. We then share these findings with others working on initiatives like ours – and make sure energy becomes a key element of such projects. We’ll tell you more about the actual energy needs of the schools and health clinics later on in the year, once we’ve got 12 months+ worth of data. Boom.

What’s next?

Earlier this year, we raised our own bar and topped up the project with a £1.75 million investment – to power up 300 new sites and reach 300,000 more people over the next 3 years. We’ll continue to share what we’ve learned so far to pave the way for others who’ll follow in our footsteps. Stay tuned for more updates later this year. 

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