Kwale County Government has begun an ambitious multi-million shillings mass installation of solar streetlights in urban centres across the county in a programme dubbed ‘Let there be light’.
The goal of utilizing solar-powered streetlights is to improve socio-economic activities, enhance security and reduce incidences of crime.
Solar street lights, whose batteries get their power from photovoltaic panels, provide a major competitive advantage as they operate completely independent from the grid, thus eliminating all electricity bills.
Area Governor Fatuma Achani says the initiative seeks to transform the coastal county into an ‘attractive destination for investment and tourism’ and help end darkness after sunset.
The Governor contends that the solar public lighting system is easy to install and is more cost-effective than grid-connected lighting thus ‘our resolve to empower the communities with green energy’.
Achani says the lighting scheme is part of a push to expand solar energy and lighting up rural areas that have limited access to the national grid with hundreds of solar street lamps.
She says it’s a popular source of power as solar lights are attractive because unlike grid power there are no bills to pay besides the initial cost of setting up thus reduce public lighting costs.
“The solar lights are expected to ease pressure on electricity bills on the part of the county government,” she said, adding that the lights which are self-operational will switch on automatically when darkness sets in and switch off when day breaks.
She says the project is part of her long-term plan to transform the county into the preferred business destination by improving security and raising the living standards of the residents.
Governor Achani says the street lighting project will improve security and access and encourage the 24-hour economy besides increasing the safety and security of the people at night.
“The solar street lighting project would see major urban centres in all the six sub counties lit,” she said adding that the project would avert accidents and ward off robbery incidents especially at night.
Achani further asserted that the solar project will allow fishermen along the coastline to safely venture out to the sea at night to fulfil their families’ economic needs.
She said the streetlights and solar lamp posts are also being put up at strategic locations on roads linking the sub county headquarters with no access to the national grid.
The county boss said the streetlighting scheme is part of her administration’s economic sustainability plan to create job opportunities and open up the local economy.
“The streetlighting project is also a deliberate strategy aimed at stemming rural-urban migration which often puts a strain on existing urban infrastructure,” said Achani, adding that the devolved unit would not compromise on functionality and quality of the project.
Governor Achani called on area residents to own the streetlights and curb any theft and vandalism from taking place.
By Hussein Abdullahi