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County, REREC Pen Deal to Ensure Sustainable Access to Electricity

Uasin Gishu County Administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) to ensure sustainable access to electricity up to the grassroots level.

Addressing the press after the MoU signing ceremony at his office, Uasin Gishu Governor Dr. Jonathan Chelilim said the move is in line with his Administration’s Nguzo Kumi agenda number 7, which focuses keenly on rural electrification, which is a crucial element for economic growth in rural areas.

He indicated that 65 percent of households across the county are connected to the grid, while 35 continue to rely on traditional sources of energy like biogas and wood fuel, causing health and environmental concerns.

The agreement will see the county procure and install 200 transformers in 12 months, while at the same time targeting over 90 percent access to electricity in the next 5 years.

The governor pointed out that in the first phase of the programme 2024, they would prioritize non-operational projects like milk coolers, potato cold storage facilities, grain stores and fish cold stores.

He added that the subsequent phases would focus on unconnected rural homes by introducing off-grid solutions for lighting rural centres, providing clean cooking technologies and implementing sustainable water pumping using solar and wind energy.

“As a county, we have budgeted toward this programme Sh30 million which is going to be matched by REREC in an MoU signed this morning through a shilling for a shilling policy where if we give Sh30 million, it is as good as saying we have Sh60 million,” he explained.

He affirmed his commitment to set aside more resources in the next county budget in a bid to connect every household to the national grid in the next two years.

“We have instances where powerlines pass near our homes but we do not receive the resource; this is going to be addressed by our collaboration with REREC,” added Dr. Chelilim.

He noted that the county is currently examining power distribution in every ward to come up with a report for the proper implementation of the rural electrification programme.

In her remarks, REREC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Rose Mkalama said that they have programmes running across all the 290 constituencies in the country, especially in the off-grid counties, to ensure that the rural communities are electrified.

“We have off-grid programmes which include solar, mini-grids and other standalone renewable energy programmes. All this is to ensure all Kenyans have access to electricity,” she said.

She explained that through the Rural Electrification programme, they partner with county governments and Members of Parliament through NGCDF in a programme called the Matching Fund where they give a shilling for a shilling to complement Exchequer funding.

She added that the fund is managed through the counties and is also available for Members of Parliament.

She noted that they have collected about Sh2.5 billion across the country from both MPs and counties.

She lauded the programme which she said brings together all the stakeholders who contribute both financially and non-financially to be able to reach as many people as possible.

“As REREC, we are a non-profit organization whose responsibility is social in nature. To ensure that all the rural communities receive electricity, we go across the borders of all the counties and the wards to ensure that people get electricity,” alluded Dr Mkalama.

“We acknowledge that for you to bring social and economic development in a country, you have to start from the smallest unit which is the rural community.  Our emphasis is to ensure that we improve the rural communities because we have seen a great transformation brought about by the rural electrification programme like enabling communities to open up small businesses, which has enabled them to grow economically,” she added.

The CEO underscored various key achievements of the programme like improving the social lives of rural communities, as the programme cuts across all sectors of education, health, agriculture and others.

She explained that they have been able to connect all hospitals in rural areas which has enabled them to even store the medicines that they could not store previously.

In the agricultural sector, they have done irrigation in some rural communities through water pumping, a move which has helped address the issue of food security by boosting food production.

“Education standards have improved because of increased learning time due to lighting systems in schools. Business grows in rural areas because we have more business hours due to the availability of electricity and communities can bring their socio-economic lives to a better level,” she noted.

She called on other countries that have not yet joined hands with the corporation to come on board and work together with REREC to ensure sustainable access to electricity across the country.

Noting that developing people in the smallest unit would also contribute to the economic development of the country and the GDP, Dr Mkalama reiterated the corporation’s commitment to working with counties as well as MPs to ensure that projects under this programme are implemented efficiently and effectively.

She underscored that the projects identified with Uasin Gishu County were set to be completed within one year of the signing of the agreement.

She further noted that they shall form a project implementation committee composed of the Members of the County Assembly and members of REREC and the national government to fast-track the implementation of the projects to the end.

On his part, REREC Director Philip Cherige said the corporation’s board is pleased to work together with Uasin Gishu County to achieve the Presidential mandate to ensure every Kenyan household in all parts of the country has access to electricity.

By Ekuwam Sylvester

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