Hivos East Africa

East Africa

Renewable Energy

In my six years as a writer in one of the newspapers in Kenya, I did not write any stories related to the environment or climate for that matter. It did not interest me. Being on the weekend Features desk, such stories were not of interest to the desk either. Would I have taken an interest in climate/environmental reporting had someone mentored me into it? That’s a question I ponder during training by University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism in collaboration with Hivos East Africa on reporting on renewable energy. I am not alone though.

While her intention was to save Kitui South Game Reserve currently threatened to extinction by illegal logging and charcoal production. Charity Ngilu, the Governor of Kitui County instead unleashed a violent storm by banning production, transportation and the sale of charcoal in her County. Following this, Kenya's National Government also banned tree cutting for an initial period of 90 days. Since then, the charcoal sector has experienced a serious blow. In the Nairobi markets, the price of the 50 kilogram bag has escalated making it twice expensive.

From drought to floods, the impact of the global climate change has extended its tentacles to Africa. Notably, Kenya has felt the scourge of erratic rain patterns and extreme weather events. In the months of February and March, discussions around the country’s ‘slow desertification’ made headlines in the media with a huge public debate on how to recover its depleted forests.

As a reactive measure to save forests, the national government and some county governments issued directives to stop illegal logging and charcoal production.

Day 1

“We’re at a point where there is much to be excited about – we’re at a point where the energy future is going to look very different to the past.” – Rachel Kyte, CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL)

Ketumbeine and Komolo villages are two distant communities in the Northern Zone of Tanzania. They did not have access to energy before Power Corner and Rafiki Power arrived on the scene and installed solar powered mini-grid stations from 2016 -2017. The arrival of these decentralised energy sources has led to a gradual start-up of budding new businesses, such as welding, car washing and cafes selling cooled soft-drinks such as soda..

As we celebrated Women's Day this week, the story of my teenage years spent with my grandmother in a village in the highlands of western Cameroon came back to my mind. We lived in a sundried brick house with very small windows and a living room that was used as a kitchen at the same time. From a distance you could spot a thick column of smoke escaping from the house when my grandmother cooked. In addition, the living room/kitchen was always dark despite the daylight that found its way through the central door and the small and unique window.

(Photo by Tamara Kaunda for our partner IIED.)

 ... but at the same time stay true to their values

“Universal energy access by 2030 is now within reach”. The title of the International Energy Agency (IEA) press release announcing the Energy Access Outlook 2017 report, released on 19 October, sounds promising. The IEA’s detailed analysis of the status of energy access in the world attributes its optimism to growing political will and declining costs of energy technologies.