Hivos East Africa's Green and Inclusive Energy Programme and the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SOJ) on February 21, held a roundtable with the aim of increasing quality and frequency of reporting on renewable energy in Kenya.
The discussion attracted approximately 200 participants and drew speakers from different stakeholders in the renewable energy sector in Kenya including the government, civil society organizations, private sector, donor community and academia.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Jean Marc Sika, Programme Manager, Renewable Energy, Hivos East Africa emphasised Hivos’ commitment to promoting access to clean and affordable energy for all, through partnering with stakeholders in the sector including government and private sector. He welcomed the dialogue as a positive step for stakeholders in energy to interact and to build the capacity of the media when it comes to reporting on renewable energy in Kenya.
Mr. John Maina Senior Assistant Director, Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy highlighted efforts that the government has made in the renewable energy sector, among them the promotion of improved cook stove usage. Mr. Maina also acknowledged the partnership the government has had with Hivos in advancement of biodigesters in the country. “We started the promotion of biogas usage in 2009 when the country had only 2,000 biogas plants. Today, we have more than 20,000 plants,” said Mr. Maina.
The Director, SOJ Dr. Ndeti Ndati noted that the school recognises the responsibility to continuously produce graduates with skills and competencies that address communication needs including in green energy and drive the ensuing conversations. “The SOJ will ensure its students are familiarised to issues like renewable energy which affect the everyday lives of the people especially in the rural areas,” said Dr Ndati.
Other speakers included Jackson Mutonga, Senior Advisor for Off-grid Rural Electrification at GIZ Kenya; Maimuna Kabatesi, Project Manager for the Green and Inclusive Energy Programme at Hivos East Africa; Dr. Justus Simiyu, Senior Lecturer in at Department of Physics, University of Nairobi; and Bernard Osawa, Project Director at Frontier Investment Management and Vice Chair of the Energy Sector Board of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
The Kenyan media was challenged to do more to report on, present and educate on renewable energy.
Participants at the forum felt that the roundtable provided a rare opportunity to discuss renewable energy from multiple perspectives. Institutions of learning and other players were challenged to provide data that is quality and accessible on renewable energy in Kenya.
Hivos in East Africa is working to create space for conversations on renewable energy, building the capacities of practicing journalists and student journalists to communicate effectively.