UK researchers against free solar kits for Kenyans

Researchers hired by the UK government have objected a plan to donate 2 million home solar kits to poor Kenyans, most of whom are rural farmers. The Overseas Development Institute had been hired by the UK Department for International Development to evaluate the Energy for Africa Campaign, advised that an agreement between the Kenya Government and Canadian company Sky Power be put on hold awaiting consultation with other stakeholders in the solar industry.

The researchers ruled that donations of solar kits to poor Kenyans will disrupt the industry, and proposed that beneficiaries be given financial assistance to purchase the kits.

“Proposed giveaway of two million solar home kits by Canadian developer Sky Power as part of a larger solar infrastructure with the government could disrupt the off-grid business, especially solar sub-sector across Africa, leading to disinterest among locals and eventual withdrawal of funding by impact investors,” said the researchers, in a report.

Show of gratitude

The two million free solar kits by SkyPower gift came after the company signed a $2.2 billion agreement with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum during the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Nairobi last year. In the deal, the Sky Power will develop 1 GW of solar projects .

SkyPower also announced the gifting of two million SkyPower Home solar kits to people of Kenya.

“SkyPower’s $2.2 billion investment will create more than 25,000 total job years in Kenya and includes 200 MW of fabrication and assembly facilities, as well as a commitment of US $173 million toward education, training, and research and development,” said SkyPower Executive Vice President Charles Cohen when the deal was announced in July 2015.

 SkyPower is majority owned by CIM Group, a U.S. based transformational urban real estate and infrastructure investment firm.